Mark Webber has revealed what was going through his mind as he experienced the worst accident of the season so far. And he has revealed that the chassis involved was the car which won the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.
Webber hit the back of Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus on the run to Turn 12 when he was travelling at 300km/h. Webber had recently pitted after a poor start which dropped him from second to ninth place. He was fighting with Kovalainen for position, not lapping him.
The car flew through the air and was badly damaged, although it saved his life. Red Bull is currently checking through the monocoque to see if it can be repaired for further use. As monocoques are homologated now, they will have to work with the FIA on this process.
Ironically the chassis was the same one in which he won the Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.
“I wasn’t sure what he was thinking,” said Webber, “Whether he was going to release me, because sometimes it’s happened before that when you catch those guys they don’t put a fight up.
“Then he went back to the right, so I thought okay, he’s going to fight. I was in the slipstream, I looked to the left, then he went back left, and then as soon as I looked right, he braked. It was so far before the braking point, it was 80 metres earlier than my previous lap – I couldn’t believe it.
“In a Formula One race if you have someone braking that early, things like that can happen. My car felt like it was airborne for a long time. I had time to worry about whether there were any bridges at that point on the track, which, luckily there weren’t. If there had been one, I would have hit it because I went pretty high. But the car stood up to the accident well.”
Estimates put the height Webber’s car reached at between five and ten metres.
Kovalainen has argued that he was defending his position and that he braked at his normal place. Meanwhile Lotus technical director Mike Gascoyne has said that the fault lies entirely with Webber, as the overtaking car is responsible for passing safely.
That Webber survived the accident unscathed – the third time he has been airborne in a racing car after his Le Mans flips with Mercedes in 1999 – is a great recommendation for the beefed up safety regulations over recent years, particularly the stringent crash tests on the roll hoop structure.
Formula 1 is now in its seventh decade and it was only when reflecting on Webber’s accident that I realised that the 2000s was the first decade in which no-one died in an F1 car, which is a massive achievement.
As a multiple race winner and particularly a Monaco GP winner, the car would be expected to have had a significant extra value.