How dangerous is F1 racing? Exploring the sport's relationship with danger, safety, and popularity

F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain
Zhou Guanyu (#24) crashes at the start during the 2022 F1 British Grand Prix (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

It is no secret that F1 is one of the most dangerous sports in the world. It is the pinnacle of motorsports, where some of the most talented drivers race at blazing-fast speeds in highly technologically advanced cars made by top engineers.

However, drivers might crash into one another, or something could go horribly wrong in the car that causes it to crash or even burn. Since these cars are being driven at such high speeds, crashes and reliability issues are life-threatening.

Over the years, many F1 drivers have lost their lives in crashes. For example, Ayrton Senna passed away at the 1994 F1 San Marino GP in Italy after crashing into a concrete retaining wall at around 233 km/h. The most recent death in the sport was that of Jules Bianchi, who passed away at the 2014 F1 Japanese GP after crashing into a tractor crane that was removing another crashed car from the track during adverse weather conditions.

An extremely severe crash happened during the 2022 F1 season as well, involving Zhou Guanyu's Alfa Romeo. At the start of the British GP, George Russell accidentally collided with the young Chinese driver, resulting in the latter rolling over and being flung onto the safety nets. Luckily, Zhou was okay and had no major injuries. This proves how much safer the sport has become. The FIA is constantly working on increasing safety and reducing the possibility of fatal accidents.

However, because F1 is such an exciting sport to watch, the danger factor somehow becomes a selling point. People are always enthralled to see cars racing at breakneck speeds. While no one wants to see fatal crashes and deaths, fans love the thrill of watching talented drivers and fast cars race against each other.


George Russell reflects on Zhou Guanyu's crash at the 2022 F1 British GP

George Russell recently reminisced about Zhou Guanyu's crash and how he reacted to it. The young Chinese driver had a horrible crash at the British GP as his car flipped, slid through the gravel trap, and got flung behind the barrier wall. Russell, who accidentally caused the collision, immediately got out of his car and ran towards the scene to help.

Speaking to Motorsport, he explained how it was more of a human reaction than a race driver's reaction to immediately head out and help. Russell said:

"I guess, if I was in that position, I would want every single bit of help as soon as possible, because you don't know what is going to happen next, the car's going on fire or whatnot. So, I guess that was probably more of a human reaction as opposed to a racing driver reaction."

Even though the Briton wasn't able to help the marshals, he stood by the crashed car until Zhou Guanyu was out and safe.

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Edited by Anurag C