Remembering the Formula 1 drivers who passed away in 2022
Formula 1 is a sport with a long history. Ever since its inception in 1950, F1 has revolutionalized motorsport. Over the decades, we have witnessed some of the greatest drivers the world had ever seen. Be it Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher, or today’s Lewis Hamilton. The sport has given us legends who were not shy of risking their lives to be at the top spot of the pinnacle of motorsport.
But Formula 1 is a dangerous sport. Decades ago it was common for multiple drivers to lose their lives while racing in F1. The likes of Ayrton Senna and Ronald Ratzenberger come to mind, both drivers who passed away in 1994 at Imola. However, as technology advanced in modern times, safety became a priority and such fatalities became rare with the last death due to a crash in F1 being Jules Bianchi who passed away in 2015.
Yet, time remains constant. We may have made Formula 1 much safer but we cannot stop time from taking away F1 drivers from us. Of course, death is a part of life and everyone departs someday. But losing someone still hurts. After all, we still mourn the loss of three-time world champion Niki Lauda who passed away in 2018. As such, we pay our respects to the F1 drivers who passed away in 2022.
Daniel ‘Danny’ Ongais
Daniel Ongais was an American racing driver born on May 21, 1942. Most notably, Ongais was the only native Hawaiian to take part in the Indianapolis 500. Danny Ongais was a formidable driver when it came to drag racing, winning multiple championships in the1960s. Daniel is also renowned for his spectacular record in sportscar racing as well as the Champ Car series. However, despite winning several races in the 1970s, Ongais was never able to win the Champ car championship.
Danny had a rather short-lived career in Formula 1. The American only participated in a grand total of six races over a span of two seasons from 1977-78. In 1981, Ongais suffered an almost fatal crash in the Indianapolis 500. Yet Daniel’s passion for racing did not stop and he even competed in the Indy500 at the age of 54 in 1996 and finished P7 after starting P33. Sadly, Daniel passed away at the age of 79 on February 26, 2022 after a congestive heart attack.
William Bruce Gordon Johnstone
William Bruce Gordon Johnstone was a South African racing driver who was born on January 30, 1937. Bruce Johnstone had humble beginnings in his racing career. Starting out with a Volvo PV544 in local events in the African country. But Johnstone had a small official career in Formula 1, competing in only a single Grand Prix. Bruce joined the BRM F1 team in 1962 for his home race in South Africa where Johnstone failed to score a single point and finished P9.
However, William took part in several non-championship races. Notably, his first F1 outing was in the 2nd 1960 South African GP in a Copper T43. Bruce Johnstone even raced in the 1962 Oulton Park Gold Cup, where the South African delivered a decent result, finishing P4. Bruce stopped racing at the age of 25 to focus on business activities. Johnstone died at the age of 89 on March 3, 2022.
Victor Henry ‘Vic’ Elford
Victor Henry Elford was born on June 10, 1935 and was a British racing driver. Elford competed in several disciplines of racing including Formula 1, rallying and even sportscars. During the rallying days, Henry was given the nickname, ‘Quick Vic’ because of the Englishmen’s outstanding performances with Porsche. It is interesting to note that Victor only became a popular rally driver by 1962. Previously being a codriver.
Vic Elford’s Formula 1 career started out in 1968 with the Cooper Car Company. The Englishmen would switch between three different teams for his three years in the sport. Ending his career at the Yardley BRM team, albeit with only one race start in 1971. In total, Victor took part in 13 F1 races and scored 8 championship points. Elford passed away on March 13, 2022 after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Vic was 86 years old.
Kunimitsu Takahashi was a Japanese racing driver who was born on January 29, 1940. Takahashi started racing with motorcycles and was the first Japanese to win a World Grand Prix in 1961. However, Kunimitsu switched to 4-wheelers in 1965 due to injuries sustained previously. Notably, Kunimitsu Takahashi won the 24 hours of Le Mans in his class and even several Japanese racing categories. Takashi had also founded a successful Super GT team.
Kunimitsu had a 41-year-long career in motorsport. During this time Takahashi even earned the title of ‘Father of Drifting’ or ‘ Kuni-san.’ Kunimitsu’s Formula 1 stint like the other drivers on this list was short-lived. Kunimitsu Takahashi made a single appearance at the 1977 Japanese Grand Prix with the Meiritsu Racing Team and finished P9. Takahashi passed away at the age of 82 from lymphoma on March 16, 2022.
Reine Wisell was born on September 30, 1941 and was a Swedish racing driver. Wisell too started out his racing journey with motorcycles as a teenager. However, Reine went up the ranks quickly and even won the Swedish Formula 3 championship in 1967. Reine Wisell then had a low-key few years in racing before catching the attention of Colin Chapman after Reine’s performances in Formula 5000 in 1970.
This earned Reine Wisell a place in Formula 1. Wisell replaced the late Jochen Rindt at Lotus. On his debut, Reine secured a stellar third place. However, it was the peak of Reine’s F1 career as the Swedish driver retired in 1974, after a total of 23 races and 13 championship points. Reine Wisell died in Thailand during a vacation on March 20, 2022 at the age of 80.
Charles Anthony Standish ‘Tony’ Brooks
Tony Brooks was a British racing driver born on February 25, 1932. Brooks earned the nickname, ‘Racing Dentist’ because of his dentistry being his profession. He started out his career with sportscars in 1952. Tony won the 1955 non-championship race at Syracuse with Connaught, making him the first Brit to win a Grand Prix in a British car. Tony Brooks made his Formula 1 debut in 1956 with the Owen Racing Organization.
Tony competed in 39 Formula 1 races during his 6 years in the sport. With six wins, 10 podiums and 75 championship points to his name. Brooks never won an F1 world championship but came close on two occasions. In 1958, Tony finished P3 in the standings and then proceeded to be the runner-up for 1959 with Scuderia Ferrari. Tony Brooks was the only surviving Grand Prix winner from the 1950s till his tragic death on May 3, 2022. The Brit died at the age of 90.
Patrick Daniel Tambay
Patrick Tambay was a French racing driver who was born on June 25, 1949. Surprisingly, Tambay used to have a career in skiing before starting out in motorsport. Patrick garnered success in the Formula 2 championship as well as the Can-Am series, before making his F1 debut in 1977 and driving for the Theodore F1 team. This led to the start of one of the most charismatic driver’s journey at the pinnacle of motorsport.
Patrick Tambay competed in 9 seasons of Formula 1. During this time, the Frenchman took part in a staggering 123 races and was part of a variety of teams including McLaren and Scuderia Ferrari. Although. Patrick could only manage a grand total of 5 pole positions and only 2 race victories. After ending his F1 career, the Frenchman went on to have another shot at the Le Mans 24 hours. Patrick Tambay passed away on December 4, 2022 and was 73 years old. His death was mourned by the entire F1 community.
Philippe Streiff was born on June 26, 1955, and was a French racing driver. Philippe rose up the ranks of junior racing categories in France before competing in the Le Mans 24 hours. Notably, Streiff took the class win at Le Mans in 1981. The Frenchman made his Formula 1 debut in 1984 with a single start for Renault before switching to Ligier in 1985. Philippe Streiff achieved his sole podium finish at the 1985 Australian Grand Prix.
Philippe then spent two seasons at Tyrell and achieved moderate success but was unable to truly make his mark in F1. After a horrendous crash in the 1989 pre-season test with AGS, Streiff suffered from quadriplegia and became bound by a wheelchair. Philippe Streiff took part in 55 races, with one podium and 11 championship points. Philippe passed away on December 23, 2022, at the age of 67.
So there we have it, the Formula 1 drivers we lost in 2022. It is tragic to hear about the loss of anyone in our lives, and seeing these legends depart from this world truly hurts the fans. We might not be able to stop time, but we can preserve the legacy of the fallen and make them timeless. As we start the new year, let’s remember these greats who made their way to the pinnacle of motorsport. Definitely a proud accomplishment.
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