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Sauber: Perez shunt reminded me of Karl Wendlinger
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Sauber: Perez shunt reminded me of Karl Wendlinger
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 May 2011   |  8:28 am GMT  |  27 comments

After his ferocious accident yesterday, Sergio Perez was due to spend the night in hospital under observation, as doctors assess the concussion he suffered in particular. He escaped without any broken bones.

Wendlinger: Accident 17 years ago


The incident was particularly vivid for his team boss, Peter Sauber, who lived through a similar but far worse accident with Karl Wendlinger in 1994. The Wendlinger accident came a few weeks after the death of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at Imola, a time when the sport was already feeling raw. Wendlinger was in a coma and, although he recovered and still races today in GT cars, he never returned to his peak levels as an F1 driver afterwards.

“I thought of that (accident) twice, first with Rosberg (who lost control at the same place in practice) and then Perez,” said Sauber “But today the safety of the track is far better. Then the protective barriers were full of water. Also the cars then weren’t what they are today. I’ve seen Perez’ chassis, its completely intact. That’s why he’s not got any serious injuries.

“Wendlinger didn’t have any visible injuries but he had a sideways bang on the head against the water filled barriers.”

Jenson Button also had a serious accident at the same spot eight years ago that forced him to sit out for a while with a bad concussion. He said,

“This is a danger spot. It is where I crashed and where Karl Wendlinger had an accident which was horrific. We love coming here and it is a great circuit but we need to look at safety.

“The problem is that when you brake the car goes light at the back. If you lock the rear wheels you are a passenger. You slide as if on a sled. We accept that motor-racing is dangerous – it says so on the tickets – and there have been a lot of safety improvements, so we just need to look further at this area.”

There have been various suggestions about how to make that spot safer including the idea that a barrier could run diagonally from the armco on the right to the left side of the point which Perez hit, thus taking away the impact with the point.

There have been several accidents and incidents at that point this weekend. There is a bump on the rise which seems to be causing the problem, but Fernando Alonso believes that the extreme aerodynamics on the cars this season are also a factor,
there is a bump there in the braking zone which is not helping.

“It is the nature of the circuit that maybe you lose the aerodynamics there, ” said Alonso. “Because of the way it goes around the circuit. It is a combination of many things – the poor grip that we have with the new rules and this year, the aerodynamics of the car that are for sure going for an extreme way of developing the car with the blown diffuser and exhausts. That is the way it is unfortunately.”

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27 Comments
  1. Michael Grievson says:

    its good everyone who has crashed there is OK. I’d certainly going to keep the drivers on their toes. Was it Rosberg in the Williams a couple of years ago who destroyed his car there as well?

    1. Heffalump says:

      Rosberg crashed between Tabac and the Swimming Pool complex.

  2. Seán Craddock says:

    I think Mark Webber said that every year F1 comes back with different cars, and that he doesn’t know why it’s happening more now than in recent times (Petrov & Liuzzi Thursday, Rosberg & Perez yesterday).

    Could it have something to do with KERS coming back? The car’s act differently now under braking and it’s the first time these cars (the ones that crashed that is) r using KERS here.

  3. Merlinghnd says:

    James, food for thought for future topics, Coulthard and Brundle plus Kravitz on BBC were talking about drivers having a pre season MOT from the medical staff asking them questions to measure concussion after an accident, lights to indicate the G force experienced, extracting a driver after an accident etc etc.

    This would be a very interesting for all your readers if you could enlighten us further.

    Keep up the good work.

    1. Grayzee (Australia) says:

      I’ll second that! I had never heard of this before either, and am intrigued to know more.
      Please help, James.

      1. Weeraz says:

        Thirded! I was intrigued. Thanks James.

  4. Forzaminardi says:

    I always thought Wendlinger was the ‘forgotten victim’ of 1994 as while he ultimately recovered to good health and still races today, his F1 career – which had seemed so promising – was effectively over.

    Was it before your time, James, or do you have any memories of Wendlinger? He always seemed like a great driver to me and of course, out of the 3 German (OK, Austrian!) ‘wunderkinds’ who came through to F1 in the nineties, it was actually Wendlinger who had won the F3 title ahead of Schumacher and Frentzen.

    1. Ross says:

      Both him and JJ Lehto looked set to be big stars after Saubers debut season in 93. By the end of the 94 season they were both finished as F1 drivers.

  5. F1_Badger says:

    Best wishes to Perez, always sad to see a driver injured! Especially one having such a good weekend at such a hard race in his debut year.

  6. JohnBt says:

    Glad it’s not too serious for Perez. Wish him a speedy recovery for the next race.

  7. Terry says:

    Glad Perez is OK. There does seem to be an accident blackspot. I wonder if it would be safer to take away the chicane at the end, so they don’t have to brake so hard?

  8. Conrad M. Sathirweth says:

    In P3 when Rosberg crashed he went over some speed bumps which caused his car to fly up, in qualifying they were gone which was lucky because Perez’s car could of been flung up high into the corner and it could of been even worse. I think I saw Button say something about removing the speed bumps on his radio after he saw the Rosberg shunt.

  9. Watching quali yesterday, I think we were all silenced by the intensity of the Perez crash. It’s even more mind-blowing to know that the whole chassis is still intact.

    Everyone needs to honor the brilliant engineers who develop these technologies to make racing, as dangerous as F1, a safe spectacle which we can all enjoy.

  10. Edward Valentine says:

    Thank Heavens Perez is OK. According to reports he wants to drive today! That just goes to show how strong a metal F1 drivers have! I would regard them along with Tour de France/professional cyclists and olympic rowers as the strongest and fittest all round athletes.

    I would be interested to find out more about the FIA crash tests for side impacts because if you look closely as Perez hit the barrier coming out of the tunnel his right front detached and was close to clocking him on the head. I could be wrong but I think this is how Senna died when he had his accident. Perhaps someone would be kind enough to explain the FIA side impact tests.

    1. Alan says:

      The right front wheel stayed on the car. It was the front tyre peeling away from the wheel (like the machine does at the garage) that you saw.

      1. Edward Valentine says:

        Yes that is indeed correct. Having watched the accident again it clearly is the carcass of the tyre that gets ripped off and not the wheel itself.
        Perez hit the barrier at an angle though – I’d love to know what the provisions are regarding accidents like this in the FIA crash tests. I know about head on collisions (200 mph or so into a concrete block) but what about collisions at an angle? Are all the bases covered in that regard?

        Cheers! Thanks a Million

  11. Steve Rogers says:

    The idea of taking away the escape road and instead having a less abrupt angle to hit seems worth investigating.

    1. Snowy says:

      It very well may be a good thing but Barrichello’s idea of putting a shallow-angled barrier across there has it’s own potential problems.

      It would reduce the force of a direct impact like Perez’ or Wendlinger’s but could equally spear a car across the track into the path of other cars or into the Armco on the left side of the track along the waterfront, resulting in two heavy impacts.

      I’m sure the safety experts will look into it and do all the sums.

  12. Grayzee (Australia) says:

    James, are you aware of any major accidents in this spot in other racing catergories. We hear of the F1 accidents, but not other formulae.
    Also, why can’t that end on barrier be moved further down the straight, thus opening up the run off area?

  13. mark says:

    James,

    Sorry for off topic.

    I have a question about this (from Autosport):

    “Although teams like Red Bull Racing are understood to use around 45 per cent of throttle flow for the blown diffuser when the driver is off the accelerator, sources suggest that Renault’s use is as high as 95 per cent ”

    Do you know something about McLaren and Ferrari amount of percentage? Thanks.

  14. Cain McPain says:

    Seeing Perez onboard at Q2 I thought he’s gonna crash anytime soon. And it did happen in Q3 but it wasn’t that big of a mistake. Even drivers with many years of experience were took out at the same place earlier.
    Nevertheless I am really surprised by Perez this season. No way I thought he’s gonna be just as quick or sometimes even quicker than Kobayashi this season. Starting to like Perez more and more after every race, just the way he drove in Q2 in Monaco was amazing to watch.

  15. ash says:

    I am pleased to hear that Perez- and also now Petrov- are ok.

    Does anyone else think that, despite the occasion and history, f1 has simply outgrown monaco? This new generation of long cars look ridiculous threading their way through the barriers.

    1. Rudy Pyatt says:

      The sponsors – and Bernie – would never allow that to happen. I believe that he would drop every other European track, Monaco alone remaining.

      For better or worse, in may ways Monaco defines F1.

  16. Joe S says:

    There’s been quite a few comments about the bump, but that’s always been there so it’s a bit silly with people saying about it.

  17. mark says:

    Joe,

    Sorry for off topic.

    I have a question about this (from Autosport):

    “Although teams like Red Bull Racing are understood to use around 45 per cent of throttle flow for the blown diffuser when the driver is off the accelerator, sources suggest that Renault’s use is as high as 95 per cent ”

    Do you know something about McLaren and Ferrari amount of percentage? Thanks.

  18. j says:

    The bump has always been there but as was stated before there have never been so many cars with KERS trying to brake over that bump.

    Tracks make adjustments all the time. Why not here as well? When multiple cars have the same exact accident you must look at the track surface for answers.

  19. Lalit says:

    James -

    During the major discussions a few years back, about what to change in order to improve racing, i believe it was Adrian newey who had mentioned that the simplest way to do that woudl be to improve the Mechanical grip of the car, rather than the Aerodynamics.

    Seems to me that had they done that, it would also have avoided this kind of accident completely.

    I still beleive that this was not accepted, because of those who insist that F1 needs to be a pinacle of motorsport.

    however, pinacle does not mean taking stupid risks.

    In interest of safety, while maintaining high entertainment value, we must go back to high mechanical grip, with innovations like KERS being the ones that reall differntiates F1 from other sports, rather than making Aerodynamics as the differentiator.

    Probably too much has been said over the last few years, that no one wants to start this topic again, but lets face it.. 4 wheels are safer than 3, 3 are safer than 2, and so is mechanical grip.

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