Verstappen's peers: These drivers crashed before the start of a Grand Prix Max Verstappen

Verstappen's peers: These drivers crashed before the start of a Grand Prix

By Robert McGillivray 26 July 2020 | 16:43


In Hungary, it became clear once again how important it is to have a good team behind you. After an unfortunate crash by Max Verstappen in the warm-up lap, the Dutchman still managed to make the start of the race. A small consolation for the Red Bull Racing driver: he isn't the only one who crashed before the start.

David Coulthard: Italy, 1995

The career of David Coulthard didn't always go flawless and that was emphasised during the Grand Prix of Italy in 1995. During the formation lap, the Williams driver flew off the track and ended up in the gravel pit. A large cloud of dust blinded the drivers who were driving behind Coulthard.

What was particularly annoying for Coulthard; he was supposed to start from pole position. "It's unbelievable. David Coulthard has already lost his chance to win the race, while the race hasn't even started yet," Murray Walker commented. In the end, Johnny Herbert won the race, while Coulthard didn't even make it to the finish. 

Rubens Barrichello: Brazil, 2001

From Coulthard's crash in Italy, we switch to Rubens Barrichello who made a trip into the gravel before the start of the Brazilian Grand Prix. Barrichello's Ferrari ended up in the gravel as the car lost all pressure. Chaos and a race against the clock followed.

Barrichello had to pull a sprint to the garage fast enough so he could still start the race with the team's spare car. Soon a timer appeared that indicated how long the driver had to get to the pit lane. Ultimately, Barrichello was fast enough and was able to start the race in his spare car. The effort turned out to be in vain in the end. The Brazilian dropped out after three laps in his home race.

Schumacher & Albers: China, 2005

Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher and rearguard driver Christijan Albers didn't see each other very often on the track in 2005. But prior to the Chinese Grand Prix, they drove very close together. In fact, they drove on top of each other. The Minardi of Albers overtook Schumacher on the left, but the German rider who steered to the left didn't notice the incoming Dutchman.

After the incident, both drivers made their way to the pit lane. Because the crash took place about half an hour before the start of the race, both drivers were allowed to start. Unfortunately for both drivers, this meant starting from the pit lane. Schumacher didn't finish the race in the end. Albers finished sixteenth.

Lucas Di Grassi: Japan, 2010

Only a few hours after qualifying at the GP of Japan in 2010, the race would start. Unfortunately for Lucas Di Grassi, that party was cancelled. In the formation lap, the Virgin Racing driver's car disappeared from the circuit. The then 26-year-old Brazilian drove into the wall at the 130R of the Suzuka International Racing Course.

What exactly went wrong is still unclear today. Virgin team boss John Booth indicated at the time that there was no technical fault. The track was mostly dry after a rain shower the day before. It was speculated that Di Grassi might be riding through a remaining wet spot, but no definite answer was ever given. 

The crash proves once again that the 130R kink is one of the most treacherous corners in the racing world. For example, MotoGP rider Daijiro Kato died in 2003 after a crash in this section. MotoGP has never visited the Suzuka circuit since then.

Romain Grosjean: Brazil, 2016

Not only Barrichello had bad luck in Brazil before the start of the race. The same happened to Romain Grosjean in 2016 when the track was very slippery due to heavy rainfall. Because his tires locked, the Frenchman lost control of the car and scraped backwards along the wall and came to a standstill.

What made the crash even more painful was Grosjean's best qualifying of the season so far. He was allowed to start from seventh place. The image of the Frenchman trying to hide the disappointment on his face with his hands still speaks volumes four years later.


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