During Formula One races, aside from the drivers, the track marshals are the most vulnerable out on the circuits. When it comes to circuits like Monte Carlo, the danger factor increases tenfold. In today’s day and age, marshal fatalities are quite rare, but there is always the lingering danger. Racing Point driver Sergio Perez found that out the hard way when he almost collided with two of them.
There have been a few incidents involving drivers and marshals over the years. The most notorious one resulted in the deaths of Tom Pryce and Frederik “Frikkie” Jansen van Vuuren. For the two, it was simply a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Van Vuuren and fellow marshal, William, entered the live circuit without permission, and the former paid a heavy toll. When Pryce’s car struck the unfortunate van Vuuren, a fire extinguisher from the latter’s hands struck the Welshman on the head.
Another notable incident took place during the 2001 Australian Grand Prix, involving Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher. A stray wheel from Villeneuve’s car struck Graham Beveridge, killing him in the process. Finally, another track marshal suffered fatal injuries during the 2013 Canadian Grand Prix.
What happened between Sergio Perez and the marshals?
Apparently, the Mexican driver happened to exit the pit lane a couple of seconds before the incident. The marshals were clearing debris at the time, when a startled Perez exited the pit lane and nearly bore down upon them. There was no red light at the pit exit and the marshals probably weren’t aware that there was a car coming from pit lane.
Luckily, the experienced Mexican had the presence of mind to brake and allow safe passage for one of them. The other marshal paused briefly to left the pink Racing Point car pass before carrying on. Additionally, Perez should be lauded for maintaining his trajectory, when instinct screamed at him to swerve out of the way.
However, swerving could have had devastating consequences for everyone involved. This is because, drivers are allowed to get up to racing speed when they exit the pit lane, so a collision, would have been devastating.