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Webber’s crash car was the Spain and Monaco winner
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Webber’s crash car was the Spain and Monaco winner
Posted By: James Allen  |  29 Jun 2010   |  11:57 am GMT  |  149 comments

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.

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1

The fact that these very severe accidents (this one, Kubica in Canada in 07, Massa last year) have been survived is a great thing and everyone involved in F1 safety shold be congratulated.

But we’ve got to remember not to get blasé about it – at some point in future another driver will be killed in F1.

Also, although no-one has been killed in an F1 car in the noughties, let’s not forget the 2 marshalls who were killed during F1 races in that decade.

2

Webber was lucky. Imagine if his car flew up over the barriers?

3

And it happened before in F1. Wished I bookmarked that you tube clip.

The accident was like a high jumper executing a perfect jump.

Thank god there were no fans on the other side.

IMO it was Webber’s fault. He should have waited and would have passed Kovi in a couple of laps.

4

If you drive at 10/10ths all the time this is what happens.Stay within your limits and you get to the finish and score points.

I know Webbull just made a mistake.It had better be his last one though if he plans on being champion this year.

5

I think what you’re saying is that a man has to know his limitations.

Now, where have I heard that before?

6

I think it was a just a racing incident, glad Marks OK, probably worked out to be a good thing for the rest of the teams as they finaly got to see the Red Bulls knickers ! (and alonsos in a twist)

7

Webber is the new Trulli!

8

Perhaps the most baffling thing about this incident was the amount of idiotic nonsense spouted by the BBC “pundits” DC and Brundle. As most here have pointed out, this accident was quite simply Mark Webber’s fault and to argue otherwise is laughable. On road or track you keep clear of the guy in front, i.e. you don’t drive into the back of his car.

I don’t buy the clean cut Aussie hero crap, Webber’s driving has been wild and dangerous on a number of occasions this year and I am very surprised he has not been put under investigation by the authorities for it, let alone severely censured. And his attitude to other drivers is weird. How many drivers think they have the right to instruct their team to stop their team mates overtaking them? And yet at the same time he thinks other drivers (on the same lap) have to pull over for him! Maybe he’s suffering from delusions of grandeur now he’s in a top team because he has developed a sense of entitlement that is totally at odds with his perceived “nice guy” image.

9

Webber knew when we was on top after his podium double and qualifying triple, and it would be hard to know that appears to have swung full circle. To be fair, it is the first time he has been in this situation on top for his team, seemingly, a couple of races ago, clearly having all the answers over his team mate, and leading the championship.

Yes, he can make rash decisions trying to make up points, but any guy who can still make it with the best with a broken leg at the start of last season, good car or not, has got plenty of mental strength. He just has to learn to use it in other areas. So the mistakes, and then the intense media scrutiny has been testing. I could be wrong, but it seemed like he and not Vettel was made to answer the media. He almost looked depressed after qualifying last weekend.

It was good to see him shake Vettel’s hand after his crash and congratulate him on the win. I hope the crash settles things down between them and they both pull together knowing that racing is a very distant second to being alive.

And I don’t know that he is an Aussie ‘Hero’. He is more like the guy next door that kept at it and has now only started to see some of the rewards. But then again, most Aussie ‘Hero’s’ are exactly that, and that has it’s upsides and downsides.

10

5-10m of air? Don’t think so. I’d say less than 2m.

But I must say the distance he travelled is impressive…

11

James- off topic but will you be at goodwood? If so are you there professionally or personally?

12

I’m just waiting for (dreading) the debate that crops up after these accidents, calling for brake lights and wheel covers. I think Eddie Jordan once even suggested ‘bumpers’ in front and behind the wheels.

Sheesh….

13

Has anyone looked at how Webber’s car landed? To me he is one very lucky boy. If the car had not landed on the kerb or had straddled the kerb, (i.e. the rollover hoop on the track but the cockpit on the kerb) his head could have struck the kerb. I think it is past the time someone looked at kerb heights and what could happen if such a scenario came about in a similar shunt elsewhere.

14

I don’t know, that sounds like it would be New Labour-style knee-jerk law-making. This was a pretty exceptional accident. Exactly how likely is it that a car will land upside down straddling a kerb? You can’t legislate for every possible freak occurrence. What if the car ended up upside down in the gravel? The roll hoop could sink in. What if the car ended up upside down on the tyres – should the tyre barrier have a cover on top to prevent the roll hoop dropping down inside the tyres?

15

What I’m concerned with is the possibility of a high kerb actually reducing the effective height of a roll over hoop if the hoop was on the track surface but the cockpit was over the kerb the driver’s head could very easily be in contact with the kerb. All I’m asking is if someone has thought of this when proscribing kerb heights at tracks. Webber’s car appeared to land upside down on the kerb and that got me thinking.

16

I’ve said this elsewhere but I think it worth saying again.

Webber has been acknowledged as one of the unluckiest drivers on the F1 grid and it has proved to be a great frustration to himself and his many fans, but when it has been truly important he has had the most incredible fortune.

Three high speed flips, a confrontation with a 4WD whist on a mountain bike… the amount of luck you have would not seem important, but it’s timing is everything.

17

James, I have seen the question raised on another site, “Nobody has talked about how after a lap Webber went from second to 9th? Okay so he had a bad start and went to 4th after a few turns, but then lost how many more positions? Bad tyres?”, & that is my question too. I wonder just what happened to Mark’s start that he ended up back there and trying too hard, in the first place…?

I seem to recall LH saying a couple of weeks ago that he wanted championships like MS, but he did not want them “tainted”.

Steve Matchett said on Dave Despain’s “Windtunnel” Sunday evening that he would rather see the bigger teams, Ferrari, McLaren, RB, Merc…race three competitive cars than the slower cars who often break down and don’t finish. It was also mentioned that starting organizations be allowed to buy a chassis for their first year.

Dave said that Jean Todt might be on “Windtunnel” this coming Sunday, July 4th, on Speed at 9 pm. That could be interesting! 🙂

18

He lost a place to Hamilton at the start, then he was off line and the Ferrari’s went through. At Turn 8 he bumped with Barrichello and lost places to him and Hulk.

19

James, thanks for clarifying this, I haven’t seen this (P5 -> P9) info anywhere else. It certainly wasn’t broadcast in Australia.

My worries over MW were evident after qualifying. I posted them in earlier blogs on your site. There were real signs that the wrong MW had turned up to Valencia (Remember last year? he ran an incident-free race to full race distance and still couldn’t get into the points).

Slipping from P2 to P9 in one lap? I haven’t checked, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this was the biggest give up of positions in one lap by any top ten driver this year.

I think his frame of mind was ‘troubled’ to say the least when he arrived behind HK.

However, I haven’t seen any information (other than MW’s assertion) that HK braked 80m earlier. It certainly looks true on the footage, and MW would have moved past slower cars many times over Practice and Qualy. I trust his claim over the 80m on this point.

I think this accident is a racing incident, but with MW carrying a good deal more blame than HK and his rep must wear it.

Afterall, real champions seem to have a happy knack of avoiding these indicents, don’t they? Maybe that’s how they get to the top

20

I think Mark just paniced, tried to push to hard and he has a history of doing this.Heikki did look like he moved twice.

21

Has anyone else realised that this crash has given all the opposition’s engineers a good look at the floor of the bulls? Anything of interest to note there?

22

I’m the biggest Webber fan, and I was very relieved when he walked away from the crash. He is so lucky!

In retrospect, he shouldn’t have been anywhere near the back markers – but that was due to his poor start, where fault only lies with him.

A couple of races ago, everybody was backing Webber and saying how he has improved. Now all of a sudden its Webber has ‘red mist’, Webber can’t drive, is reckless etc etc.

Every driver has their (+) and (-) and we are all entitled to an opinion. No point critising a driver when in the same situation who knows what we would have/could have done.

Sure it was Webbers fault. He hasn’t blamed Heikki. He explained the situation and it is a racing incident. Bring on Silverstone, where I’m sure we’ll see some AussieGrit to regain what was lost from this race!

23

The Sydney papers have been quoting Gascoyne as saying Webber was at fault. I think the real culprit was Mike Gascoyne for designing such a slow car in the first place……

24

JA, your comment on ITV website that Hamilton took an unfair advantage in spain is a big disgrace to yourself. If it was Jenson you won’t say that rubbish. i know you are bitter that hamilton didn’t lose any position and Jenson didn’t get second position. can any spanish website write that rubbish against Alonso?

25

What are you talking about? He got an advantage by getting ahead of the safety car. It was unfair, clearly. He got a penalty for it, but the penalty cost him only time, not places.

26

What always irks LH’s detractors is the way he invariably seems to gain from questionable antics and yet never receives any significant penalty.

On this particular occasion you have to wonder whether the authorities looked at the “penalty” they were imposing and actually took note of the fact that, in the circumstances, it wouldn’t even be a penalty at all! Clearly, at the very least, he should have been put back in front of Alonso. Even that would not have represented any punishment whatsoever for breaking the rules. It would merely have put him back in the position he would have occupied if he hadn’t passed the second safety car.

I rarely find myself sympathising with Alonso, who not infrequently acts like a cry baby, but this time his frustration was very understandable.

27

What?? LH never gets a penalty? What about Spa 2008? What about Canada when he ran into cars i the pitlane. He’s attracting penalties because he pushes at the limit – as you’d expect of a racing driver.

28

so Vettle got unfair advantage aswell? JA, i don’t need to be a rocket sciencist to know that if vettle was ahead of SC then Lewis would be ahead aswell or very very close to SC, so nothing unfair here. what is unfair to us fans is how Jenson who can’t qualify on podium and is second in WDC.

29

Vettel didn’t pass the safety car after it had passed the relevant line on the track – Hamilton did. Had Lewis stayed behind the Safety Car as per the regulations he would have been forced to complete that lap more slowly behind it before pitting, losing him track position to the cars who were able to pit the lap before.

Alonso was just behind Hamilton when the Safety Car came out but stayed behind it – he dropped from 3rd to 9th because of it. I’m not mentioning Alonso because of his rattle out the pram comments, just to illustrate to you the scale of the advantage Lewis gained by passing the Safety Car. In fact, Hamilton would probably have dropped further down the order than Alonso because McLaren needed to change his nosecone, damaged in the first corner clash with Vettel.

Had Lewis simply been in the right place at the right time when the Safety Car came out (as he was in Monaco 2008), no one could have objected. In Valencia, Hamilton was also in the right place at the right time – but only because he broke the rules to get there.

30

No Vettel passed the Safety car line before the Safety car came out the pits. You clearly were not paying attention 😉

31

Nothing wrong in being consistent, look at Keke Rosberg in 1982 as an example…

And to be honest, the only reason anyone has a look in the WDC this year is because of Red Bull consistently throwing away races in what is blatantly the best car. They should be doing a Mansell in 1992 right about now!!

32

racing incident.

Let’s see how this it’s going to affect webber. In my view he is going to be eclipsed by vettel in qualy and in the races.

33

Gascoine IS going to say what a great car they have and that Kovalinen did nothing wrong.

The fact is that all the new teams are an extra hazard that the other drivers have to negotiate.

They should be penalised if they dont get out of the way because no way are they racing.

34

Sorry, but you’re talking rubbish. Penalised for not getting out of the way? Should that apply for every car that holds up a faster one? Should Kobayashi be penalised for holding up Button? Of course not! It’s racing. ALL the teams are there to race. Lotus have as much right as Red Bull to be there. They have an official F1 entry, they qualified same as everyone else (and were within the 107% which will apply next season), and on lap 9 Heikki Kovalainen was ahead of Mark Webber and had every right to defend that position, no matter how fast the car behind ultimately was. The fact of the matter is it was Webber’s responsibility to make that pass safely, and he was unable to do so.

35

Spot on.. even the new teams admit they are only racing each other atm. Why would the slowest car even bother blocking the fastest car after only 9 laps into a 60 odd lap race? Even though Webber is at fault for the crash the reason I watch is the competition between teams, not ridiculous attempts of backmarkers to race cars that are miles ahead.

36

Don’t agree, when your fighting for position on the track you have a right to defend your position.

If the faster car behind is so good, then they will soon be past without incident.

Oh, hang on…..

37

Webber has driven some slower cars before, so I expect him to be more understanding for drivers trying to race decently in slower cars.

Fault was entirely Webber’s. He should have apologised to Heiki for ruined his race.

Looks like the Red Bull drivers still have a lot to prove in overtaking on track.

38

Here’s a question for F1 fans: Do Red Bull try too hard to win?

It’s traditional wisdom that sometimes to get an F1 title consistency is the key. Points for a safe second are better than risking them for a win and going home with nothing.

We’ve seen Mark Webber’s kamikaze move in Australia, their first corner dicing in Malaysia, the infamous Turkey experience and now Webber making a last gasp move on a much slower car.

Meanwhile we’ve seen so-called hot-headed drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso take the results they can get over the past few seasons and stay in the mix despite not putting together and run of poles and wins.

As for the team it looks like this season’s car is built to be the fastest not necessarily the strongest, and they’ve failed to turn those first row lock outs into a string of top two steps on the podium.

Currently Red Bull remind me of an attacking football team, always pushing for a goal but due to their pressing always likely to let one in too.

39

There isn’t a team on the grid that isn’t straining every sinew to better their rivals, and in the case of the top teams, win the championship. But they have to do it without employing drivers who repeatedly crash into their rivals and threaten their lives and the lives of those around them. On their current showing, that doesn’t seem to be the way it is working out for Red Bull.

40

I agree, but that straining can and I think has for RB manifested itself as desperation and then exasperation when it doesn’t come off. I agree they need to better manage their driver’s emotions in the heat of the race. I think Maclaren are doing this with Hamilton. Although I suspect much of that is him growing up a little, and Buttons relaxed attitude. I think Webber would be where Button is IF he had already won a championship, but he hasn’t and that is causing added friction.

Maclaren and Ferrari know they are going to win again, it is just a matter of time, so that gives them extra mental space and relaxation to get the job done, and do it right.

41

I agree. RB are hungry for that first world championship. Ferrari and Maclaren and their drivers dont have anything to prove besides upholding their traditions. Also this is the first time Mark has had a fast and reliable car, and his time is running out. This is where he needs to relax and let it come to him. Easy to say, tough to do in the heat of the moment. Maybe his race engineer needs to learn to calm him down when things go South.

42

Glad he’s ok but entirely his own fault.

43
Matthew J Sullivan

It’s true that no one died “in an F1 car” during the 2000s. But that is a very carefully wordsmithed statement.

Change the word “car” to “race” and the statement is no longer true. At least two track marshals were killed at F1 races during that decade.

Drivers are surviving wrecks due to a combination of car design and track design. Giving the FIA credit for design standards that helped save the lives of drivers but allowed the deaths of track workers is a fairly gruesome accounting trick.

As for the FIA’s much-vaunted crash standards: the most easily survived crash is the one prevented in the first place. I’ve seen enough flying F1 cars during my decades as a fan to have long ago decided that open wheel cars are unnecessarily dangerous. Christian Fittipaldi’s flip years back could have caused mass carnage had he landed just just a few feet over – in the pit lane.

What will it take for the FIA to wake up to this risk? A repeat of Le Mans 1955?

44

Kovalainen braked as normal…..

There lies a clue why these cars are soooo slow.

Spend too much time braking (thereby causing other breaks).

45

I like everyone else had a heart in mouth moment when the crash happened on sunday. What a leap in safety we have seen since the fatalities at imola.

Great to see neither driver hurt.

I felt that webber should take most of the blame as he appeared. That said it was a spur of the moment judgement call that he just got wrong.

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