5 times F1 cars caught fire in the pit lane
F1 can be dangerous at times, as racing accidents are rather common in the sport. However, it is easy for one to hurt themselves in the paddock too. Possibly the second-most accident-prone area after the track itself is definitely the pit lane.
Crashes and bumps between cars and unsafe releases are commonly seen in the lane in F1. However, over the years, quite surprisingly, the pit lane has also seen some scary fire accidents that were near fatal to the crew and the driver.
These lanes are tight and narrow, and sometimes human/machine errors can cause major incidents there. Sometimes, due to immense pressure, car issues or mismanagement of tools, an F1 car can go up in flames within seconds in the pit lane itself. Here are 5 incidents when F1 cars caught fire during the race.
5 times F1 cars caught fire in the pit lane
1) Jos Verstappen's 1994 pit lane nightmare
Jos Verstappen and Michael Schumacher partnered with each other for Benetton F1 during their 1994 campaign. During the season's German Grand Prix, the team looked focused on clinching a home win for Schumacher.
As the race went on, Schumacher was called in to refuel on Lap 13. Two laps later, Verstappen drove in to refuel and the tragedy struck the Benetton garage. The fuel was accidentally splashed all over his car. The fire engulfed not just the driver but also the entire crew and garage of the team.
Several crew members were also caught in the flames as officials worked very quickly to put out the fire. Thankfully, he and the crew escaped the incident with no major burns or injuries.
2) Eddie Irvine's 1995 F1 Belgian GP incident
F1 legend Eddie Irvine spent three years with Jordan Peugeot F1. While the team was not exactly a frontrunner, it still allowed Irvine to show his caliber as a driver. Notably, he made his big move to Ferrari post his remarkable P12 with the team in 1995.
During the season's Belgian GP, though, Irvine narrowly escaped a major refueling accident. When he pitted on Lap 21, the crew managed to complete the stop within time. However, as the Briton started to leave the box, his fuel valve opened and the car caught fire.
Thankfully, the situation was brought under control within six seconds. Irvine also managed to escape the incident without serious injuries and remained largely unfazed. However, he was forced to retire post the incident.
3) Kimi Raikkonen faced a major McLaren blunder
The 2009 Brazilian GP was dominated by three separate opening lap incidents. However, it was the Jarno Trulli-Adrian Sutil accident that finally brought out the safety car. McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen took this as an opportunity to pit post his own contact with Sebastian Vettel.
Kimi Raikkonen had also pitted after picking up front wing damage. However, Kovalainen was released from the pit lane early with his fuel hose still attached. Raikkonen's closely-following Ferrari was sprayed with fuel from McLaren's hose.
Ferrari ignited into a fiery ball as the vapor hit the hot exhaust. Thankfully, the fire quickly extinguished on its own, and Raikkonen remained uninjured. Consequently, McLaren was fined $50,000 after the flash fire. Kovalainen also faced a 25-second penalty that was added to his race time.
4) Kevin Magnussen's Renault went up in flames during a Malaysian GP practice session
Kevin Magnussen drove for the Renault F1 team during the 2016 season. As the team headed towards the Malaysian GP that season, they decided to test parts for the race in Mexico.
During a practice session, Magnussen could only complete the installation lap. As his car rolled into the garage, it started overheating and caught fire. Thankfully, Magnussen quickly jumped out and the fire was controlled immediately.
The car reportedly had a fuel leak from the breather. However, it was not too badly damaged, allowing Magnussen to continue his next practice run.
5) Pierre Gasly had a scary practice session in Singapore in 2022
There was confusion in the AlphaTauri camp as Pierre Gasly's FP2 run ended with a scare. Ahead of the race, the team had successfully completed half of its FP2 run. However, as Gasly's car made its way to the garage, the top somehow burst into flames.
The Frenchman immediately jumped out of the car as an Aston Martin mechanic extinguished the fire. While it was anticipated that the Singapore weather could've played a role in overheating the engine, Gasly later confirmed:
"It’s all part of the practice! Checking how strong the engine is in these hot conditions.It wasn’t ideal, it got slightly hot, and when we connected the fuel breather it caught fire, but we could switch it off and restart again. So, just a bit of a barbecue feeling, but it was nothing too bad in the end."
These were some of the scariest fire accidents that took place in the pit lane. Fortunately, all the drivers were lucky enough to walk away unscathed.