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rollover ff1 template   JOS VERSTAPPEN-HOCKENHEIM 1994    
rollover ff1 template   Jos Verstappen's car is engulfed by flamesThe first modern pit fire since the re-introduction of refuelling in 1994, this incident that befell Jos Verstappen at the 1994 German Grand Prix at Hockenheim was one of the most horrific scenes of the 1994 season.

Coming into the pits everything seemed normal, but when the fuel hose was applied to the car, there was a sudden burst of fuel which splashed over the car and the general pit area surrounding it. Within a second the intense heat from the engine ignited the fuel, sending the Benetton pit into a fireball.

Fire hoses were immediately applied to the car, and the flames were put out within three seconds, with Verstappen escaping with only minor burns. Miraculously his pit crew emerged unscathed as well, with no serious injuries reported.

It was later discovered that the filter inside the hose has been team tampered with, possibly in an attempt to make the fuel pass through the system quicker, and thus reduce pit stop times. The Benetton team were later sanctioned for their actions.

One of their pit mechanics at the time, Steve Matchett was involved in the fire, and recalled the event in his 1999 book, 'The Mechanic's tale: Life in the Pit-Lanes of Formula One:'
"I participated in well over four hundred pit stops with Benetton, and in the vast majority of them I escaped with nothing more than a rapidly beating heart. But in Hockenheim, during the 1994 German Grand Prix, as we tried to refuel Jos Verstappen’s B194, our luck finally ran out and the Benetton mechanics were caught amid the flames of the most spectacular fuel fire Formula One has seen. The next morning photographs of us, our overall aflame, made the front page of every daily newspaper throughout the world. With the quick-release rear jack I was responsible for lifting the back of the car, while my opposite number, Kenny, operated the front. It had been agreed that we wouldn’t “drop” the car until the refuelling hose had been removed -as this would prevent the driver trying to leave early, dragging the fuel rig and Simon, the mechanic brave enough to operate it, down the pitlane should it become jammed.

"The fuel hose went on, and through the powerful heat haze which surrounded the car I kept and eye on Simon, waiting for him to signal that he had finished. But what I saw was a spray of fuel flooding over the bodywork drenching the mechanics who had started to change the tyres, and washing over the rear wing towards the disc brakes. Time slowed down to a snail’s pace. My god, I though, we were lucky that didn’t go up! Then it did.

"The car disappeared in a ball of white flame, and I remember a noise like a rush of air produced before an underground train enters the station. My overalls were on fire and I remember rolling on the ground trying to extinguish the flames. The McLaren mechanics came running to help and it was their speed and efficiency that saved me from serious injury."

Amazingly, Verstappen raced two weeks later in Hungary, and scored a career best 3rd place. Perhaps a barbeque is Verstappen's motivational factor in life?

The events of Hockenheim 1994 are shown step-by-step below:
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    Step-by-step guide to this Incident  

-0.5 seconds-Verstappen pulls into his pit box hoping for a quick and efficient stop.  

0.4 seconds-Verstappen is stationary in the pit box. The fuel hose is lined up with the hub, and the mechanics are already beginning to remove tyres.  

1 second-The fuel hose is connected and refuelling has begun. Tyres are being removed still.  

1.7 seconds-The tyres have been removed, and refuelling is continuing. New tyres will be applied now.  

2.2 seconds-New tyres have been applied to the car, refuelling still appears to be going as normal.  

2.6 seconds-It seems that refuelling has not been going normally. The refueller has struggled to apply the hose to the car and now the hose has worked itself loose, with fuel still passing through it.  

2.8 seconds-The first fuel splash. Things just go downhill from here.  

3.0 seconds-The fuel splash has already worked its way to the cockpit, and the rear of the car.   

3.2 seconds-The fuel splash has now covered almost all the car.  

3.4 seconds-The fuel splash has engulfed the whole car and surrounding area.  

4.0 seconds-The mechanics retreat from the car, realising their dire situation.  

5.0 seconds-The mechanics are still edging back, while the refueller desperately tries to drag the heavy hose from the car.  

5.3 seconds-The first flame.  

5.4 seconds-The flame spreads.  

5.6 seconds-The whole car is engulfed in flames.  

5.9 seconds-The flame gets worse, the mechanics have dispersed, some are aflame.  

External view of the horrifying scene.  

Alternative angle. Verstappen was extremely lucky to escape unscathed!  

View this amazing video here

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