The United States Grand Prix INDIANAPOLIS - JUNE 20: Ralf Schumacher of Germany and BMW Williams is left stranded after hitting the wall as he came around the last corner during the United States F1 Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Circuit on June 20, 2004, in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

5 crazy starts to F1 races

"Crazy" is a word often used to describe things that happen in F1, because this is a sport unlike any other, requiring procedures, and providing entertainment unlike no other. Many things have happened to F1 over the years, so sometimes, it becomes difficult to sort out the very best moments.

Race openings often manage to give us the craziest moments of an F1 weekend. An F1 race's opening sequence needs to be pitch perfect and is responsible for giving the cars their head start. These starts, sometimes though, turn out to give some of the biggest "crazy" iconic moments in history.

Safety has come so farZhou Guanyu's British GP crash from a spectator angle, he is ok.

Video by ted_meagher98 on TikTok

Right from a car being left in smoke to a car left stranded mid-air, so much has happened in this sport. Let's look at some of the craziest race starts in F1 that shocked fans and teams alike.

1) When the lights never actually went out

It is not every day that we see the five red lights preventing a race from getting started. A traditional conduct that happens in every F1 race, drivers line up on the grid and wait for the red lights to go out before they can start racing.

Stewart's lucky day: 1999 European GP at Nurburgring sees a 1-3 finish for Johnny Herbert & Rubens Barrichello #f1 @Legenf1

However, during the F1 1999 European GP at Nurburgring, as soon as the red lights went out, the flags were almost immediately brought out and the race was stopped. Orange lights signaled right on top of the five red lights. Meanwhile, front runners Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Mika Hakkinen's cars were pushed back as they had already left their respective grids.

Nobody knows the real reason why the orange lights came on. Many believe that it was due to Alessandro Zanardi and Marc Gene leaving their grid spots already. Others believe that it was just a move from the FIA to catch the teams cheating. However, neither Hakkinen nor Frentzen were penalized as the race start was aborted.

2) When the Stewart F1 cars were left smoking in 1999 Australia GP


The Australian GP was the season opener in 1999, hosting the race in Melbourne. But as soon as the cars lined up to begin the race, yellow flags were brought out as Johnny Herbert's Stewart was already smoking up on the grid.

The start was aborted after Stewart-Ford’s Johnny Herbert & Rubens Barrichello suffered fires on the grid. Barrichello would take the spare Stewart for the restart which meant Herbert would fail to start.
Australian GP, Melbourne, 7th March 1999 #F1

Adding to this, teammate Rubens Barrichello also jumped out as his Stewart started smoking too. It was a shame for the team, given they had performed brilliantly well during the practice sessions, but had an oil leak that set a fire underneath the bodywork right before their race. Barrichello, though, ran back to take a spare car and finish the race while Herbert was the first to retire.

This wasn't the end of issues, however, as Michael Schumacher also faced problems with his Ferrari and could only start the race after a push from the mechanics. This gave Eddie Irvine the chance to shine as he won.


3) When 14 teams made a shocking decision during the 2005 US GP

Back in the old days, a US GP meant racing on the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which was another historic track in the books of F1. Who knew, however, that the sport would face a brutal shock and a peculiar start owing to a tire problem?

Narain Karthikeyan going from P19 to P5 before turn 1 in US 2005 GP isn’t talked about enough.

Michelin and Bridgestone were the two main tire suppliers back in those days. However, the practice saw many failures or near failures with Michelin tire-carrying cars. To avoid further crashes or brutal accidents, the teams sat down with the respective parties to discuss the issue. However, an agreement to lower the speed at some track points could not be reached and Michelin could not guarantee tire safety.

As a result, at the end of the formation lap, all the Michelin porters went straight into the pits. This left just six Bridgestone drivers - Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Tiago Monteiro, Narain Karthikeyan, Christijan Albers, and Patrick Friesacher - to race in the 2005 F1 US GP.


4) When Ralf Schumacher shot up in the air

In 2002, the Australian GP acted as another season-opening race held in Melbourne. Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello qualified on pole for the race, with Ralf Schumacher sitting in the third spot right behind him and Michael Schumacher.

A flying start for Ralf Schumacher at the 2002 Australian GP. #F1

As the race began, Ralf Schumacher had a brilliant start, putting him ahead of brother Michael, as he then chased Barrichello's Ferrari. As Barrichello tried defending his position, however, Ralf hit the rear of his car and went flying across turn 1 into the barriers.

The incident created a domino effect, with several cars going hayward on the track and colliding with each other. Michael Schumacher, though, then picked up the trophy after Barrichello was out.

5) When the 2022 British GP's Lap 1 incident left many scared

The 2022 F1 British GP gave us one of the most dramatic racing starts of all time. The race in itself has become legendary given the tussles that went on. It will, however, also be known as a life-threatening crash for Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou.

Guanyu Zhou and George Russell involved in huge crash at the 2022 British GP. #F1

The Chinese driver and George Russell started 9th and 8th respectively. As the lights went out, Pierre Gasly somehow found himself sandwiched between the two cars. Russell's Mercedes then touched the front of Gasly's car, went out of control, and smashed into Zhou's Alfa Romeo.

The young Chinese driver went upside down, dragging onto the gravel, flipped again, and got trapped between the barriers. Russell, also out of the race, immediately ran over to check on the driver who turned out to be okay. There's no doubt that this was one of the most horrifying incidents to have taken place on the opening lap.

Over the years, so much has happened during the opening sequence of an F1 race. These are some of the craziest starts that will always remain memorable for whatever shocking emotions they brought us at the moment.

Edited by
Abhipsa Choudhury
See more
More from Sportskeeda