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Opening Lap Carnage: Biggest First Lap Shunts in F1 History

Opening Lap Carnage: Biggest First Lap Shunts in F1 History

The 2017 Singapore GP witnessed a huge shunt involving the Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Max Verstappen. A gleeful Lewis Hamilton took advantage of the Ferrari non-finish and romped to victory. The surviving Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo was 2nd and Hamilton’s teammate Bottas was 3rd. However, the first lap shunt prompted us to dive into the F1 archives and dig up the Top 10 Biggest opening lap shunts.

5. Luciano Burti Goes Airborne (2001 German GP)

Brazilian racer Luciano Burti suffered a violent crash during the 2001 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim. Michael Schumacher had qualified 4th in the race behind brother Ralf, Juan Pablo Montoya and David Coulthard. Schumacher got away well at the start. Suddenly, the German slowed due to a gear selection issue. A number of drivers swerved to avoid hitting the German, however Burti was unsighted until the last second. He piled into the back of the Ferrari and was launched into the air. When his car came back down, his car landed on a nearby Arrows car. Unsurprisingly, the race was red-flagged. This race also brought about the most bizarre incident in F1 history, but more on that in another article

4. DC Triggers Demolition Derby (1998 Belgian GP)

Everybody knew that this one was coming. No F1 fan knows the true definition of chaos until they have watched this race. Spa 1998 was a recipe from hell itself, the iconic circuit and heavy rain. It may not seem like much now, but in those days, things were treacherous. As the lights went out, everyone gingerly navigated the tight hairpin, but no one could have predicted what happened next. Coulthard spun and was was sent ploughing into the wall on the entry of Eau Rouge. The stricken McLaren ricocheted back onto the track and triggered a multi-car pile up. Nearly half the field got taken out in the incident. The FIA, sensibly red flagged the race and allowed a restart.

3. Opening Lap Carnage in Monza

The start of this race was fairly normal and everyone got through the first few corner unscathed. That is, until the Ascari chicane. Heinz-Harald Frentzen collided with Rubens Barrichello and the two of them collected Jarno Trulli and David Coulthard as well. Behind them, Pedro de la Rosa ran into the back of Johnny Herbert and was sent airborne. Tragically, a dislodged wheel from Trulli’s car struck a marshal who was killed on impact.

2. Verstappen Gets Caught in Ferrari Sandwich (2017 Singapore GP)

This one also deserves a mention because of the implications that it has on the world championship. Max Verstappen had a great start but Raikkonen had an even better one. Vettel, thinking defensively, tried to squeeze Verstappen, hoping that the Dutchman will back out. Unfortunately, Vettel failed to see his teammate on the other side of Verstappen and the Red Bull driver was caught in a sandwich. In the resulting collision, Raikkonen skidded across the track and clatter Verstappen again. Fernando Alonso was another fast starter but his progress was undone after he got caught in the Raikkonen accident. It was a case of wrong place at the wrong time. Vettel and Alonso were able to continue but the German’s race ended one corner later. Alonso was able to carry on for a fair distance before the team realised the damage was too great.

1. Romain’s High-Flying Act (2012 Belgian GP)

This one was a no-brainer as well because it was a spectacular crash. It resulted in a one-race ban for Romain Grosjean. Many had expected Pastor Maldonado to do something in the race and he did, just not in the way people expected him to do. Everyone’s favourite Venezuelan jumped the start and rocketed past the two Saubers. But the real action took place behind him, Romain Grosjean tried to cut off Lewis Hamilton, but the two tangled instead. In the resulting accident, Fernando Alonso got the shock of his life as Grosjean’s Lotus flew over him, barely missing his head.


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