You wouldn’t think just making it to the grid would be an issue, but sometimes there can be excitement and unusual incidents even before drivers reach their starting positions.
Yep, a whole host of crashes, spins, fails and weird incidents have occurred before lights out. It’s still fairly rare, but you’ll talk about it for hours when something happens.
So, let’s take a look back at some of the unusual incidents that have happened before races have even started.
Yep, not one but two MRF Challenge Formula 1600 youngsters spun on the formation lap during a recent race at the Buddh International Circuit. Remember that track? It’s got a jump now, but a few years ago, it was hosting F1 races.
As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, the two cars that spun were the ones who qualified on the front row too.
Here’s a more recent example of someone having a ‘moment’ before the race has even started. Romain Grosjean failed to start last year’s Brazilian GP after he spun his Haas car in challenging, wet conditions out of the last ‘proper’ corner at Interlagos on his way to the grid. Not the way he wanted his weekend to end…
This moment caught everyone by surprise, because warm-up lap crashes while drivers saunter to the grid just don’t happen that often.
Michael Schumacher appeared to move over, maybe starting to heat up his tyres or get out of the way, when Christijan Albers’ Minardi speared into the side of his Ferrari at the 2005 Chinese GP. Both ended up having to start the race from the spare cars (which were a thing back in those days).
David Coulthard definitely won’t remember this moment fondly. On pole for the 1995 Italian GP, he spun off on the formation lap at Ascari and got his car beached in the gravel. He retired on the spot, but when the race was stopped after two laps, he was able to rejoin on pole in the spare car (although he didn’t end up making the chequered flag anyway).
This was actually a pretty nasty shunt and the Virgin Racing team weren’t sure what happened at the time. Lucas di Grassi was making his way to the grid for the 2010 Japanese GP when his car snapped at the exit of 130R and he hit the wall. Fortunately, he was OK but, obviously, he didn’t start the race.
Adrian Newey is known for being a legendary F1 car designer but he’s also tried his hand at racing over the years. This Lamborghini Super Trofeo outing at Silverstone in 2013 didn’t quite go to plan when he lost control while warming up his tyres and shunted into the barrier on the Hangar Straight. Oops.
Imola in tough, wet and rainy conditions back in 1991 proved too much for Alain Prost’s Ferrari. Going through a high-speed section, he spun off and the car stalled on the formation lap. It proves that even in tricky conditions, the best can make mistakes. He was unable to start and Gerhard Berger even went off behind him too.
Di Grassi makes another appearance on this list after his Norisring antics in a guest Audi Sport TT Cup outing last year. He ended up winning the opening race but the second one saw him spin strangely on the formation lap at the street circuit’s tight hairpin. Fortunately, he kept it out of the wall…
This one is a bit different, but we thought we’d throw it in here for pure entertainment value. At the 2013 US GP, Jenson Button’s classic parade lap car broke down and couldn’t get up the hill. He ended up getting out and trying to hitch a lift with someone else but it sparked mayhem behind (Nico Rosberg even jumped out of his as it rolled out of control down the hill). The fans loved it though.
The 1992 Indy 500 started with huge drama when pole-sitter Roberto Guerrero suddenly spun off and crashed on the second parade lap, while stuck behind the safety car. Philippe Gache spun off in the confusion too and the incidents caused the race to be delayed.