February 16, 2013
1994 saw the reintroduction of refueling, banned since 1983 from the sport. Even before the season began, teams were concerned about the pressurized fuel rigs to be used. The rigs could fill an empty tank in just a matter of seconds, but everybody was concerned about the consequences of a spill or malfunction. Through the first eight races, there had been no incidents, and perhaps the teams were feeling a little more comfortable now. On lap 15 of the German Grand Prix, Benneton's Jos Verstappen brought his B194 in for a regular pit stop: tires and fuel. Unbeknownst to the FIA, the team had tinkered with their refueling rig, removing a fuel filter and in the process upping the flow by an additional 10%. Everything seemed to be going fine, until the man on the hose moved it around slightly. The nozzle seemed to pop out of the fuel tank, spraying an estimated four liters of gasoline around the car in an instant. It took no time at all for the inevitable to occur.
Just as quickly as it happened, it was over. While a few of the mechanics went to the hospital, nobody was seriously injured; Verstappen, caught in the middle of the whole thing, suffered a burn to his nose when some fire got into his slightly-opened visor. Steve Matchett, one of the voices of SPEED's Legendary Announce Team, was the rear jack man for Benneton at the time. His burning firesuit was extinguished by members of the McLaren team, and he suffered no injuries. The fire did give us one of the truly outstanding photographs, not just of F1 or motorsports, but perhaps of all photography.
1994 was a terrible year for Formula 1, but it could have been so much worse.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 17, 2013 12:04 AM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at February 17, 2013 12:06 AM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Wonderduck at February 17, 2013 12:26 AM (o6/9L)
Still, I hope the guy who modified the nozzle was... fired.
Posted by: Mauser at February 17, 2013 07:21 PM (cZPoz)
(Yes, I saw the pun. I ignored it.)
Posted by: Wonderduck at February 17, 2013 08:09 PM (o6/9L)
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