Speaking of Australia, there’s a Grand Prix the McLaren team will never forget.
Back in 1995, the Australian GP was held at Adelaide. Mika Hakkinen was driving the car during qualifying when he suffered a tyre puncture and hit a concrete wall. He suffered a fractured skull, internal bleeding and swallowed his tongue, and only an emergency tracheotomy at the side of the track (performed by doctors led by Prof Sid Watkins) saved his life.
Hakkinen recalls: “I was going maximum speed, going into a right hander, when all of a sudden I had a tyre failure. At that point you just become a passenger. I didn’t have a HANS system back then. Safety was very different. I ended up fracturing my skull. Thankfully when I was in hospital the doctors finally found my brain (laughs).”
The following day the Finn woke up and was able to speak. Only 87 days later he made a comeback at the Paul Ricard tests - in his first stint he nearly matched the pace of Rubens Barrichello; on his second run, Mika set a time of 1:07.1s, 6 tenths faster than the time set by Michael Schumacher.
Thus proving, however tough an accident might be, there’s always a high chance F1 drivers will recover…