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Formula One: Drivers who crashed out while leading the race

vettel crash
When Sebastian Vettel crashed into the barriers at Hockenheim in Germany 2018. Photo: Autosport
  • Crashing out of the race while leading is the most devastating due to a crash is the most upsetting incidence for F1 driver
  •  Charles Leclerc is the most recent driver to crash out of the race while leading
  • These incidents have cost the Formula One driver many points and others, even the title

An unintentional driving error whilst leading the race is arguably the most damaging mistake a Formula one racing driver can commit. It is a rare case in the elite division of motorsport.

Ferarri driver Charles Leclerc is the newest Formula One driver to knock out of a Grand Prix while leading, but he is not the first; several drivers have done so over the past years.

Car breakdowns do not count for the sake of this ranking; hence Max Verstappen’s tyre breakdown at Azerbaijan GP in 2021

Collisions with rivals, including Max Verstappen‘s 2021 confrontation with Hamilton at Silverstone, or any of the interpersonal and inter clashes, will not be recognized.

Let’s go over some of the previous instances where the race leader has crashed out while racing alone on the track. devastating

Lewis Hamilton- Germany 2019

lwis crash

Lewis Hamilton crashed out of the 2019 German GP while leading the race. Photo: Yahoo sports

In 2019 at the GP, Mercedes driver Hamilton led the race 1-2 until he went off the circuit in wet circumstances.

The Mercedes crew were having a good time celebrating 125 years since the team joined motorsport, but it turned to be a weekend of disaster as Hamilton’s error resulted in a comical pitstop.

Lewis Hamilton managed to maintain the car moving ahead enough to free himself and dive into the pits after crashing at the curve marking the entry to the holes.

The team wasn’t prepared for him, so the Britt was kept in the pits for about a minute while his squad rushed for tyres and a front wing.

Sebastian Vettel- Germany 2018

Vettel crash Germany PA

Sebastian Vettel crashed out of the 2018 German Gp. Photo: Planet F1

Vettel had an eight-point advantage over Hamilton heading into his home race following a fantastic victory at Silverstone and appeared destined to expand that margin further as a glitch. 

On Lap 51, Vettel led ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. However, he was threatened by a resurgent Hamilton as the track grew increasingly slick owing to an incoming downpour.

Vettel made a critical error into Turn 12 and went off into the gravel, striking the barriers and coming to a standstill.

As he climbed out of his Ferrari, the four-time world champion was visibly upset as he realised the magnitude of his blunder, as Hamilton stormed through to win and gain a 17-point gap in the Drivers’ table.

While Vettel won decisively two races later at Spa, the German driver never wholly regained his form and, by the season’s conclusion, had developed a reputation for committing avoidable blunders or sliding while in combat.

Vettel’s contract with Ferrari expired in late 2020, with his mistake at Hockenheim appearing to be the moment at which Ferrari started to lose faith in its legendary driver.

Mika Hakkinen- Imola 1999

Mika Hakkinen was leading in the early stages of the 1999 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola when he made the smallest of mistakes, which proved devastating.

On Lap 18, Hakkinen burnt up the rear tyres as he sought to speed out of the rough curve, rolling up onto the exiting kerb. 

However, the wheelspin caused him to quickly shoot off to the left and right into the track’s wall, to the joy of the Italian audience, who had gathered to support Hakkinen’s main title competitor Michael Schumacher.

And that is how Hakkinen threw away the title hopes.

Michael Schumacher- Canada 1999

Schumacher answered back in Canada barely three races after Hakkinen’s disastrous Imola blunder.

On that fateful day, Schumacher confidently led the race against his title contender Hakkinen when he made a mistake coming through the final racing line and skidded sideways into the wall.

Schumacher was enraged at his misstep, blaming himself for the incident. 

The error gave Hakkinen the victory and nullified Finn’s blunder at Imola.

Charles Leclerc- France- 2022

LECLERC COLLISION

Charles Leclerc crashed out of the French GP while leading the race. Photo: PlanetF1

Leclerc is the newest driver in town to join a short group of great blunders and confesses to quickly losing control whilst in a leading position on Lap 19 of the 2022 French GP

The Ferrari driver crashed into the barriers, which forced him to retire. Le Clerc was furious about the incident and heard screaming; he later stated that he did not deserve to be the 2022 F1 champion if he could drive like that.

Car breakdowns do not count for the sake of this ranking; hence Max Verstappen’s tyre breakdown at Azerbaijan GP in 2021

Collisions with rivals, including Formula Verstappen’s 2021 confrontation with Hamilton at Silverstone, or any of the interpersonal and inter clashes, will not be recognized.

 

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