Safety standards have improved since the first World Championship Grand Prix at Silverstone in 1950, where there was no medical back-up nor safety measures in case of an accident. Helmets were not made mandatory until 1952, though these were simple cork-lined helmets with no visors. It was not until the 1960s that robust full-visor helmets were made mandatory, along with fireproof overalls, and the FIA assumed responsibility for safety at the circuits. Steps were taken to improve the safety of the Formula One car in the 1970s; the cockpit opening was enlarged allowing the driver to escape more quickly in the event of an accident and outside mirrors became mandatory. The 1980s saw further improvement in the structure of the Formula One car, with the monocoque being made out of carbon fibre instead of aluminium, increasing protection upon impact. Following the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994, a number of measures were introduced in an attempt to slow the cars down, including bodywork aerodynamic limitations, a pit lane speed limit and temporary circuit modifications such as extra chicanes. Grooved tyres were introduced in 1998 instead of racing slick tyres to reduce cornering speed. Safety measures continued to be introduced into the 21st century, with a number of circuits having their configuration changed to improve driver safety.
This list includes drivers who have died during a FIA World Championship event (including practice, qualifying and the race), and those who have died while driving modern or vintage Formula One cars outside the World Championship. Track marshals and other race attendees who have died as a result of these accidents are not included in the list. Fifty-two drivers have died from incidents that occurred at a FIA World Championship event or while driving a Formula One car at another event, with Cameron Earl being the first in 1952. Thirty-two of the drivers died from incidents during Grand Prix race weekends which formed part of the World Championship, seven died during test sessions, and twelve driving Formula One cars during non-championship Formula One weekends or vintage/historic events. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has seen the most fatalities; seven drivers have died there during the time that the Indianapolis 500 formed part of the world championship, though the Indianapolis 500 was held to AAA regulations rather than Formula One regulations. Fifteen drivers died in the 1950s; fourteen in the 1960s; twelve in the 1970s; four in the 1980s and two in the 1990s. Following the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at Imola on consecutive days in 1994, no driver died during world championship events for more than 20 years until Jules Bianchi's death in 2015, from injuries sustained during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix. Three drivers died in the intervening years while driving former Formula One cars (two from the 1960s, one from the 1990s) in vintage racing and other events not associated with World Championship Grands Prix. Two Formula One Champions have died while racing or practising in Formula One, Jochen Rindt in 1970, and Senna in 1994. Rindt was not a champion at the time of his death, but won the 1970 championship posthumously, the only driver to have done so.
^ abcdefFrom 1950 to 1960, the Indianapolis 500 was part of the World Drivers' Championship, though the Indianapolis 500 was held to AAA regulations rather than Formula One regulations. During those 11 years, only once did a regular Formula One driver enter an Indianapolis 500 race, when eventual 1952 Formula One World Drivers' Champion Alberto Ascari competed in the 1952 race, retiring on lap 40 of 200.
^Non-championship events, organized by Formula One as officially-sanctioned events during a regular season, were discontinued after the 1983 Race of Champions
^ abFatalities during a test drive of a Formula One car that was not part of any competitive event. The first such fatality was an automotive engineer testing a team car during a Formula One season, while all others were then-current Formula One drivers testing their team car during a Formula One season.
^Ayulo died on May 17, 1955, the day after his accident.
^Lewis-Evans died of burns on October 25, 1958, six days after his accident.
^Unser Jr. died of burns on May 17, 1959, fifteen days after his accident.
^Bristow and Stacey died in separate accidents.
^Unable to slow down his car because of technical failure, Cabianca drove through an open gate onto an adjoining public road where he hit several vehicles. Cabianca was killed along with three other people.
^Having collided with Jim Clark, von Trips's car shot up the bank lining the track, hit a wire fence and struck several people gathered behind it while spinning in the air. Von Trips, who was ejected from the car, and fifteen spectators died.
^Godin de Beaufort died on August 2, 1964, the day after his accident.
^Taylor died of fifty per cent burns on September 8, 1966, thirty-two days after his accident.
^Bandini died on May 10, 1967, three days after his accident.
^After a tire had blown out, Donohue careened through a number of catch fences and billboards, a support post of which may have struck his helmet. He and Manfred Schaller, a track marshal who had been hit by debris, died on August 19, 1975, two days after the accident.
^Pryce and Frederick Jansen van Vuuren, a teenage volunteer safety marshal, were killed after colliding at high speed when Jansen van Vuuren was crossing the track to put out a fire.
^Experiencing a mechanical failure on his car, McGuire lost control and crashed into a marshals' post. He was killed along with track marshal John Thorpe.
^Peterson died in hospital on September 11, 1978, the day after his accident, as a result of fat embolism.
^De Angelis died on May 15, 1986, the day after his accident.
^Dawson-Damer crashed into a wooden gantry at the finish line, also killing Andrew Carpenter, a marshal, and seriously wounding another. The 59-year-old driver may have suffered a fatal heart attack before losing control of his car.
^Bianchi remained comatose in hospital until he succumbed to his injuries on July 17, 2015, more than nine months after his accident.
^Ferrer died on September 7, 2017, five days after his accident.
^Fatalities during practice, qualifying, or race at a Formula One World Championship event.
^Fatalities during non-championship Formula One events organized as part of the official Formula One racing season (once common, such as the 14 non-championship races in 1963, these were discontinued after the single 1983 non-championship race), and other unassociated competitions using vintage Formula One cars.