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Five tragedies F1 must not forget as we remember Senna

Five tragedies F1 must not forget as we remember Senna

Five tragedies F1 must not forget as we remember Senna

Five tragedies F1 must not forget as we remember Senna

May is a rough month for Formula 1 each season, and with 2024 marking the 30th anniversary of Ayrton Senna's death, it's even more poignant this year.

The legendary Brazilian driver was the last F1 fatality for over two decades as the FIA and F1 introduced increasingly safer rules and regulations to protect everyone on track.

WATCH: The Greatest F1 Champions Who Never Were

Sadly, Senna is far from the only F1 competitor to have lost his life racing in the sport, with 31 other fatalities from injuries sustained during a race weekend.

Despite so many lost names, the anniversary of Senna's death - which occurred on May 1st - seems the only date the entire F1 community remembers the sport's dangers.

So, while this month we have honoured and remembered the late Ayrton Senna, here are five lesser-reported drivers who also deserve our memories.

READ MORE: FIA punishes F1 star for breaking SAME rule for second week running

This article was originally published on May 1, 2024 and has been republished after the tributes at this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix...

Roland Ratzenberger (4/7/1960 - 30/4/1994)

Roland Ratzenberger in 1994

Often only brought up alongside Senna, Roland Ratzenberger died one day earlier during the 1994 San Marino GP at the Villeneuve corner during second qualifying.

Just five of the grid attended the Austrian driver's funeral, compared to every one of the remaining F1 drivers who went to Senna's.

Although Ratzenberger only entered three Grands Prix, he was a seasoned racer, having contested events across the UK, Europe, and Japan, and took a class win in the 1993 24hrs of Le Mans.

READ MORE: F1 driver in 'position A' for Hamilton seat REVEALED

Riccardo Paletti (15/6/1958 - 13/6/1982)

Riccardo Paletti in 1982

Before Ratzenberger's incident in Imola, Italian racer Riccardo Paletti was the last driver to die at an F1 event in the fateful 1982 season that also saw Gilles Villeneuve lose his life.

Paletti's is a tragic story, with his F1 career starting just six months earlier. Thanks to the uncompetitive Osella car beneath him, the 1982 Canadian GP was the only race he qualified for where all drivers contested (the FISA vs FOCA fight was in full swing that season).

Polesitter Didier Pironi stalled his Ferrari, forcing every other car behind to swerve past, but Paletti couldn't react in time and crashed into its rear, rendering him unconscious.

A fire broke out when the medical team tried to assist him, engulfing his car in flames with Paletti unconscious as his mother watched from the grandstands, ready to celebrate his upcoming 24th birthday.

After nearly half an hour of rescuers attempting to remove Paletti from the car, an air ambulance flew him to a local hospital, where he died shortly after.

READ MORE: F1 stars urge FIA to implement infamous SCHUMACHER RULE in Monaco

Tom Pryce (11/6/1949 - 5/3/1977)

Tom Pryce in 1976

Tom Pryce remains the only person from Wales to have led a Formula 1 race, having led the 1975 British GP after storming to a superb pole position.

Pryce often secured top-10 finishes in an era where only the six best drivers scored points and reached the podium twice for the Shadow team at the 1975 Austrian GP and the season-opening 1976 Brazilian GP.

So good was Pryce's raw talent that a 2016 computer model placed Pryce as the 28th greatest driver of all time when accounting for weather and car performance.

Pryce died in the 1977 South African GP after his Shadow teammate, Renzo Zorzi, had pulled to the side of the road before his engine caught fire, triggering two pit wall marshals to cross the track to try and help without receiving prior authorisation.

One of the two, a teenager named Frederik Jansen van Vuuren, carried an 18kg fire extinguisher and was unsighted by Pryce when the Shadow racer crested a rise in the circuit and collided with the 19-year-old at around 170 mph.

The impact instantly killed Van Vuuren, and Pryce also died immediately when the fire extinguisher hit his helmet with such force that it struck the car's roll hoop and flew over a nearby grandstand.

READ MORE: Big-name reporter claims huge team NOT INTERESTED in Sainz signing

Mark Donohue (18/3/1937 - 19/8/1975)

Mark Donohue in 1975

Very few F1 drivers can boast a podium on their debut, but it's something American Mark Donahue can, even with thick fog and rain blighting the 1971 Canadian GP.

Donohue was a veteran driver in the USA, driving for Roger Penske in the Can-Am Cup from 1966, eventually winning the 1973 season with six victories from eight rounds.

After briefly stepping away from motorsport, F1 lured Donohue back, and he raced for Penske for the 1975 season.

Sadly, his return to the cockpit would be fatal, and a tyre failure that resulted in his car going through the catch fencing resulted in the death of both Donohue and a marshal in the Austrian GP that year.

READ MORE: F1 driver in 'position A' for Hamilton seat REVEALED

Piers Courage (27/5/1942 - 21/6/1970)

Piers Courage in 1970

It's said that Frank Williams, founder of the Williams F1 team, maintained a distance from his drivers thanks to the death of Piers Courage, his friend who helped start the legendary team principal's Formula 1 journey.

Courage simultaneously raced in European Formula Two, Le Mans, and Formula 1 as he honed his racecraft in the 1960s and was the first-choice driver for the Frank Williams Racing Cars team when they entered the 1969 F1 season.

Two P2 finishes in that maiden season, including at Monaco from a P9 start, showed the potency of the partnership, but fate cut Courage's time short at the 1970 Dutch Grand Prix.

During the race, a failure on Courage's car meant he couldn't turn at the high-speed Tunnel Oost right-hand corner and instead rode up an embankment before setting alight and breaking apart.

Courage instantly died at the scene amid a fiery scene that had trees and bushes in the vicinity burning along with his De Tomaso chassis.

READ MORE: Sainz hints at sensational move to rival series


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