Over the years, we have seen drivers suffering from serious accidents often life threatening ones, sometimes we rule them out but yet they come back strong. The passion, the love and the lust they have over the sport is really unbelievable.
Maria de villota has finally spoken about the trauma she went through, It has been an unexpected ride for her in the last few months. She was involved in one of the freak accidents in the recent years and as a result of the huge accident, She has lost her eye and also the ability to smell and taste. While speaking to a Spanish Media, She also revealed that she continues to have headaches while agreeing that her life has changed post the accident and that she has to measure things differently now. But what was amazing is the fact that she talked about racing although she hasn’t yet decided on that yet, it is still something that is on her mind while also agreeing that sports authorities will play a factor as they might not issue an licence to her.
“What I'm wondering now is if my future is being a racing driver or if there's something else I have to do with my life. I still don't know what I need to do”
De Villota also admitted that it will be her interest to work on the safety aspect of the sport especially in Aero tests where there is no proper guidelines. Her mission for now is to ensure no such accidents happen again in the future.
“We all want to see if there are lessons to learn from what happened, so we can avoid accidents like that in the future.My intention is to help with a view to the future, improve safety, especially in aero tests, because at the circuits everything is under control, but not in this kind of test”
“My new life goes beyond my dreams, because my dream was Formula 1 and I achieved it. I'm a driver, I feel like a driver” - Maria de Villota
The statements from Maria de Villota really shook me apart, Forget whether she makes a comeback or not, Just to talk of a return itself a huge achievement. Over the years, we have seen plenty of crashes, some of them has ended in a fatal moments but then there are those life threatening ones which can alter the fate of a driver and causing them extreme injuries. The drivers involved in these accidents act as a inspirational personalities post the trauma they go through and we are not sure what keeps the love and the passion they have for the motorsport, But the hunger in them still remains days or probably years after the accidents and some of them make a comeback or try to make a return to the sport they love.
Niki Lauda who is currently the non-executive chairman of Mercedes AMG and as seen by some as responsible for the signing of Lewis Hamilton is one of those personalities who has gone through a severe accident in the yesteryears of Formula 1. Even before the term ‘safety’ has gained any traction in the sport. On the second lap of the Nürburgring Grand Prix, Lauda suffered a suspension failure and as a result of which he hit an embankment and rolled back on the track and then was on the path of Brett Lunger, Lauda’s car which burst into flames right after hitting those embankment, the flames only intensified post the crash with Lunger. But unlike Lunger who managed to get out. Lauda was trapped and couldn’t come out of the wreckage. It took the likes of other drivers like Lunger, Guy Edwards, Arturo Merzario and Harald Ertl along with the Marshalls who helped him to get out of the wreckage, Had Lauda been trapped any longer inside that wreckage, the accident could have turned fatal. But was surprising was the fact that he made his return to the sport in six weeks and managed to finish the Italian GP in fourth. That accident had left him with burns in the head, he also have apparently inhaled the harmful gases which damaged his lungs, he also lost half of his right ear and he also lost his hair on his right side. But the passion and the courage he had to make a return to the sport in six weeks in what was a near fatal accident shows his true spirits.
Mika Hakkinen’s racing career has been full of accidents, He started his racing career with an accident and it was said that an accident ended his Formula 1 Career. It was told that when Hakkinen was taken to a go-kart track for the first time at the age of 5, He had a crash in his first lap and that had never stopped his passion as he continued to be an iconic Formula 1 driver. In 1995 during the Australian Grand Prix, Hakkinen crashed heavily into the wall resulting in skull fracture and internal bleeding along with the fact that he had swallowed his tongue which meant that it had blocked his airway. He was rescued trackside by the medical team led by Prof. Sid Watkins. He was back into the cockpit of a Formula 1 car in three months.
Despite his long presence in Formula 1, Olivier Panis is best remembered for his accident in Canada in the year in 1997 where he was involved in a massive high speed accident where he broke his legs. Although he missed 7 races in the season, He came back for the final three races where he showed the world that he has recovered from the accident and he is good to drive. But it has to be absorbed that, Panis drove with the pins that were inserted into his legs not only for the last three races of the 1997 season but also a full year after that.
Michael Schumacher could have won his first championship in the year 1999 had he not been badly injured in a crash which happened as a result of his rear brake’s failure. Schumacher missed the action for 98 days or six races to be precise. He made a comeback at the Sepang Grand Prix where he took the pole literally by a second.
After fighting for the championship in the year 2008, Felipe Massa suffered a near fatal crash as the condition surrounding him post his crash was deemed to be life threatening. It was at the Hungarian Grand Prix where Massa was struck on the helmet by a suspension spring from the preceding Barrichello’s car, Massa went unconscious and suffered a collision onto the tyre barrier. He underwent a major surgery in an area surrounding his left eye. After several tests, it was announced that Massa was ready for a comeback and to reacclimatise to racing conditions, he drove a 2007 Formula 1 in under three months of his accident. However he made a return to active racing for the 2010 season and although some would say that he is now a mere shadow of his former self. It was a comeback of all sorts.
One of the few persons who wanted Massa to hold off his return was the legendary Stirling Moss. Often refered to as a greatest driver never to win a championship, Moss suffered two high profile accidents in his career which proved to be decisive. At the 1960 Belgium Grand Prix, Moss suffered an accident which itself was severe enough and Moss ended up having a broken back. But Moss came back to the winning ways itself in six weeks of the accident and after managing to miss three races. A couple of years later at Goodwood, Moss suffered a major accident and was in coma for nearly a month, it also left him slightly paralysed for six months. However after a private testing session while driving in Lotus 19 car, Moss was lapping slower then his own times. He decided to retire after this testing session as he felt he wasn’t comfortable and wasn’t able to command his own car. Many years later, He himself agreed to the fact that he should have given more time for recovery and that comeback shouldn’t have happened so soon. Sir Stirling Moss nevertheless is one of the legends of the sport.
“In hindsight, I probably came back two years too early, It was stupid, but I came back because every week the press was saying, 'Are you going to race, are you going to drive?' I, of course, was telling myself, 'Yes, my God I'm going to, I want to'.
"It's the thing about being there at that time. We didn't have people around like the Prof. They didn't exist. When one looks back and one sees the whole picture, it's very easy to say this and that. But at the time we didn't have people like old Watkins. If there had been people like that in the sport, I'm sure that I would have listened to them. But there was nobody to listen to, really, except myself. The doctors said physically I was okay, and I knew that, but the concentration wasn't there."
"And because the people that I was with were not racing people, it was very much a different situation. Because there were all of these articles and so on, I felt that I had to make a decision. There was the pressure on me to make one, really. In the nicest possible way. So I went down to Goodwood the following year and my lap times were comparable with what I could do normally. I was just a tenth or two off. But I could see mentally that I didn't have the Concentration to do it with the same sort of latitude for safety that I had. I was going into corners and I had to force myself to concentrate. Right, I'm going down the straight now, that's where you have to lift off... Everything was worked out, whereas normally when I'd race I'd get in the car and just drive. And I automatically would back off here and I automatically would do this to compensate that, and if it didn't work I'd be really surprised. Well, now I had to think of all these things. The automation had gone, and it was now a conscious effort. And so I thought that meant I had to get out.” - Sir Stirling Moss
Robert Kubica had a list of injuries to his name, It happened right from the junior categories where after a road accident that left him with a broken arm, He decided to still race with the 18 titanium bolts held with a plastic brace to keep his arm together and he raced at Norisring in a Formula Three car and more importantly won the race. Years later in Formula 1 and at the Montreal in 2007 while driving for BMW, He had a spectacular crash where he was said to experience several levels of G-Forces while crashing into the concreate wall at a measure speed of over 300 Km/h. He was subjected to a deceleration of 28G with the peak G-Forces being measured at 75G from the onboard data. It was announced that he had suffered a light concussion along with a sprained ankle and that he would be missing the following Grand Prix. Kubica made a return soon at the French Grand Prix where he finished fourth.
There has been several other accidents on track that were of huge impact and again some of them were near fatal. But in these accidents, the drivers never show the impact of the crash and act very normal although a close watch on the accidents can tell us the actual impact of the crash. We can talk of the Hockenheim 2001 where the start was very much messy, Thanks to the slow moving Schumacher who seem to have struck with his car. Luciano Burti didn’t manage to avoid the slow moving car unlike others who found their way out. This resulted in a huge somersault of Burti and he landed straight onto the Enrique Bernold’s car. Neither of the drivers showed any impact and surprisingly were ready for the race. Speaking of somersault and backflip, who can forget the 2010 Valencian Grand Prix when Webber was launched high into the air after hitting the back of Kovalainen's car. The accident was quite scary and sparked off the debate of the huge difference between the new teams and the existing teams and whether it was good for Formula 1. Webber had a huge backflip and then slid around and crashed into the barriers and amazingly showed no impact of the crash whatsoever. Martin Brundle meanwhile at the Melbourne Grand Prix in the year 1996 had a similar kind of accident but strangely though he hopped out of his car and when the session was briefly red flagged due to the same accident, he came back to the pits and was ready for the restart using a spare car. Other incidents like that of Jarno Trulli at Silverstone in 2004 or the infamous 2003 Brazillian Grand Prix where Alonso hit the stationary tyre that come off the preceding crash of Webber were also terrifying and the drivers have hit the barriers in high speeds.
There has been numerous other accidents as well where the viewers aren’t really sure of the impact or the fact that the impact itself would have been huge but due to safety standards in Formula 1, The drivers are able to hop out of the car safely. We can talk of many high speed accidents as such on track but nevertheless the drivers present in Formula 1 or any motorsport for the matter show great determination and their passion never really seems to fade off regardless of the accident as they do it all to make a comeback into racing. Yet some people blame the drivers for the accidents and never seem to appreciate their attitude. We can’t really finish off this article without recollecting two other incidents that literally shook the world of motorsport. These two drivers are still in the spotlight.
Robert Kubica’s case never gets completed without one recollecting the rally crash he suffered on February 6, 2011. The major crash which resulted in partial amputation of his forearm, compound fractures to his right elbow, shoulder and leg along with severe loss of blood. There has been major surgeries performed to set right his arm and repair the fractures on his leg. His condition was literally unknown for sometime and although the Polish driver is trying to make a comeback into Formula 1 which seems to be impossible at this moment. He seem to have made a try in rally where he has sort of made a signal of return. On this case, like Maria de Villota, it doesn’t matter whether he makes a comeback into Formula 1 or not. Robert Kubica will be in the class of people who has made a significant name in his short span in Formula 1. His attempts to make a comeback will be remembered and will be followed with much curiosity. He is one of those drivers that has never lost his love for speed and will be doing all he could to make a return to the motorsport at the top level.
This person has raced in Formula 1 at various times, his results tally shows that he is a sort of driver who would love to finish races, because finishing a race itself was a huge task for him given the circumstances he competed during his various tenures. The amount of retirements he suffered was much more than the number of finishes he had during his tenure as a driver for few Formula 1 Teams, but he is specifically remembered for his days in CART and also the crash at Lausitzring in 2001 where he lost both the legs. Although he was fitted with prosthetic limbs, he found them not suitable to his liking and designed his own which would allow him to race again. In 2003, he was behind the wheel and was racing at the same track where he suffered the near fatal accident. He further pursued his ambitious racing career after his successful return saw him touch the speeds of over 300 Km/h in a specially designed car which had a hand operated accelerator and brake controls. He had made a comeback to a active racing by getting a drive at WTCC where he celebrated his first win in 2005 German race after taking advantage of the reverse grid system. He added three more wins to his tally by clinching crucial wins in subsequent years at Istanbul in 2006 and at Brno in 2008 and in 2009 and was part of the series until the end of the 2009. Recently, He won the gold medal at the 2012 Paralympics in London and has signalled his return to auto racing for the 2013 season. Alex Zanardi will be remembered for sure in the years to come.