Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

On This Day: 16th October 2005 - Schumacher's formation lap crash - Accidents before the race begins can be embarrassing

Published by Christine

Schumacher in the cockpit of the F2005.
Schumacher in the cockpit of the F2005.

Whilst still puzzling over Lucas di Grassi's formation lap accident at Suzuka last week, several other pre-race crashes have been highlighted, and it just so happens one took place on this very day five years ago. The Chinese Grand Prix was the final race of the season - a year refreshingly led by Renault and McLaren, after the previous Ferrari dominance.

Last weekend, di Grassi crippled his car between setting off on the formation lap and watching the lights go out for the start of the race. Back in 2005, Schumacher wasn't even able to get to his grid slot after a surprising collision with Christijan Albers.

Schumacher was cruising round the track, heading for his sixth place grid position. The Ferrari was travelling slowly, the aim to try and conserve fuel and maximise his chances of moving up through the field. Meanwhile, Albers was navigating the track in his Minardi, and had no desire to approach the grid slowly. He rounded a corner and was confronted with a bright red wall, which he duly crashed into. Both drivers had to abandon their cars out on track. Luckily for Schumacher, if luck can be counted in this instance, spare cars were still permissible so Michael could start from the pitlane. Albers also managed to return to the garage and pick up the spare Minardi.

Naturally, the incident brought out many concerns about the procedure of getting to the grid, and then GPDA chairman David Coulthard was particularly vocal about it:

To be honest I nearly came together with a Jordan and Toyota out there. Some drivers are going slowly conserving fuel and some of us are trying to get heat into their tyres and brakes. It usually takes an incident to make things happen and I think now is the time to make the cars operate at a safe speed when they are out on the track to make sure there is no repeat of incidents like today.

- David Coulthard

In the end, neither driver finished the race. Schumacher spun out about 20 laps in (another slow speed incident, as the spin occurred under the Safety Car), whilst Albers suffered some wheel problems a few laps from the end.

The race was also full chaotic events. Karthikeyan pulled out of the formation lap to start from the pitlane after a few concerns about his Jordan. He joined the action, but crashed heavily on lap 28, splintering the car into pieces. He climbed out of the wreck okay, but there was very little left of the car itself. The accident brought out the second safety car of the day. Afterwards, Narain blamed some of the problems on tyre grip, due to so many laps behind the first safety car.

Montoya in the McLaren had brought out the safety car, after smashing into a lifted drain cover. The cover was hidden in amongst the painted kerbs, and initially Montoya just came in for a new wheel, as the safety car came out. There was more damage to the McLaren than initially suspected though, and Montoya found himself returning to the pitlane with radiator and engine problems.

Whilst all this was happening, Fernando Alonso and his Renault were happily leading from pole position. With Räikkönen tucked up safely behind him in second, Alonso crossed the finish line to secure Renault the Constructors title. Fernando felt like he had done it in style:

We only showed our potential in qualifying, putting all the power in the engine and a little bit in the first stint, and after that we just ran with very low revs. Kimi was too far behind and I think that was the easiest race of the year, probably.

- Fernando Alonso

Easy for him, yes. Behind him? Carnage!