Monday, June 28, 2010

F1: Mark Webber tweets he's "feeling good" after horrific accident

You know how much of a stickler for spelling and punctuation I am. I can't help it. I can't afford the therapy so you have to live with it. Anyway, I must be cured a little bit because when I saw Mark Webber's tweet this morning with "role on Silverstone" in it, not one hair on the back of my neck stood on end. All I felt was relief - and a wee bit of grateful incredulity that someone can have a huge crash one day and say they're feeling good the next.

I actually screamed yesterday afternoon as his Red Bull hit Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus, catapulted into the air, turned over, slammed into the ground and then crashed into the wall. Even now, I feel sick when I watch it on tv. Almost immediately, the steering wheel came flying out, so thankfully we knew that Mark wasn't badly hurt but it was one of these moments you never ever forget. It was so good that he was able to walk away from it and barely an hour and a half later he was chatting to Jake, Eddie and DC on the BBC. He looked a bit shaken and was quieter than normal - although he managed to fit in a typically Webber profanity when the conversation turned to the football.

It just goes to show how much safety has improved in Formula 1 that a driver can walk away from an incident like that.

I don't think there is any blame to be apportioned really for yesterday's accident. Ultimately it was a racing incident. There were some who were calling for the slower cars to have to yield track position to the faster ones but I think that would be ridiculous.

Heikki Kovalainen had every right to defend his position. He was ahead in the race and I think it goes against any principle of competitive sport that he should have been forced to yield to Mark Webber just because he's driving a car that is a bit slower. It's not that much slower - only a couple of seconds a lap at the time of the accident and well within the dreaded 107% rule (which means that cars outside 107% of the pole sitter's qualifying lap don't get to participate in the race)that's coming back in next year.

If a driver is skillful enough to defend his line, then he should keep his place. End of.

How else are newer drivers to F1 to develop their racecraft skills and keep them fresh if they constantly have to yield to the bigger teams?

I think what's been helpful about this incident is that both drivers have been helpful and respectful in their comments about it. Mark said:

"Well, it always takes two to tango, doesn't it? There's two of us in this incident,"

He went on to say that he'd been surprised by how early Heikki had braked for the next corner and that's what caught him out, but there were no insults flying around.

For his part, Heikki's view was pretty similar:

"I'm fine and I'm very happy that Mark is fine as well. It shouldn't have happened, but it did.

"I think Mark was surprised how early I had to brake for that corner.

"He was behind me, I was defending because I was racing him and I always want to defend, but then I think he was not sure which way to go and at that moment I hit the brakes and he had no chance to react. I think that's what happened."

Such a horrific accident needs to be investigated, but let's hope that there are no knee jerk changes of policy or rules. Lotus Principal Mike Gascoyne was robust in his view on Twitter yesterday afternoon:

"For all those sayiny (another typo, but he was on the pit wall at the time) we should not have defended from webber when it is for position on track we race. Always......."

He clearly got it in the neck from Red Bull fans because he later tweeted:

"To all those who sent rude messages about me tweeting during the race then just stop following."

I'll write a bit more about the race separately because there were plenty of controversies. I'm just glad that Sebastian Vettel was able to prevent yet another McLaren 1-2.

I am not a fan of the Red Bull Racing team by any stretch of the imagination, but I have a very big soft spot for both of their drivers. Webber is a gobby Australian who's had to fight to break into F1. He's had struggles in his time and has almost had to give up on several occasions but he's shown real determination and Aussie Grit is a highly appropriate Twitter name. Sebastian Vettel is an exuberant young German who maybe sometimes pushes too hard and a little unwisely, but he is an incredibly brave and talented driver. It's impossible not to like him because he's always polite and appreciative of the team.

One of the reasons I don't like the team is the fact that I do think they favour Seb. I was really furious when the Red Bull spinners were quick to blame Mark for the coming together with Vettel in Turkey, although they later backed off from that. I still think that was Vettel's fault. I'm also not keen on the fact that Webber gets given one year deals while Vettel gets long contract extensions when they have both delivered the best results in the team's history.

If Mercedes can't win at Silverstone in 2 weeks' time, and, let's face it, Schumi hasn't always done well at this track, I'm hoping both can keep the McLarens at bay and Mark can keep up with or overtake Seb in the Drivers' Championship.

1 comment:

Keith Legg said...

I haven't seen the actual crash, as I was picking Amy up from a friend's house when it happened, but switched on while the safety car was still out and the tone of Jonathan Legard's voice suggested something big had happened. DC was also sounding shaken when he was interviewed by Legard during the race too, so I'm amazed Webber seems to be OK.

I also missed whatever it was that Hamilton did to upset Alonso so much. He (Alonso) seemed to be having a good rant at his team before Hamilton got the (pretty useless) drive-through penalty.

On the 107% rule, I didn't realise that they were bringing this back next year. Since the last time it was used was when they had single qualifying, how are they going to implement it? Before, all the teams had the chance to get in under the limit, but if it's still the split then the teams eliminated in the first round are going to be at a disadvantage as the leading group get faster and faster.


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