David Coulthard has blamed Mark Webber’s spectacular crash in the European Grand Prix on the difference in speed between the Webber’s Red Bull and Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus:
Obviously the Red Bull [has] massive top speed relative to the Lotus and it just catches the drivers out. You don’t want to have more than six, seven eight kilometres an hour difference between the fastest and the slowest cars.
But speed trap data from the race shows the Lotuses were faster than the Red Bulls in a straight line in qualifying.
It’s clear Webber was going much faster than Kovalainen when he caught him and failed to avoid running into the back of the Lotus.
But perhaps the situation is not quite as straightforward as Coulthard – who remains a Red Bull employee despite having stopped racing for them in 2008 – makes out. Here’s how the two cars’ top speeds compared in qualifying at the race:
|Driver||Car||Top speed (kph)|
|Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||307.7|
|Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||307.3|
Coulthard’s words give the alarming impression that the Lotuses are far too slow to participate in F1 because they cause accidents like the one suffered by Webber.
And as the data above shows it’s not as if the T127s are cruising down the straights, massively slower than the front runners on every lap. If they were, Webber would have got past them very easily.
Part of the reason Webber was going so much quicker than Kovalainen was that he was slipstreaming the Lotus. We’ve seen other drivers hit cars while slipstreaming them in recent races – though not with quite such disastrous results.
Lewis Hamilton, for example, clipped Rubens Barrichello while overtaking him in Interlagos last year and Felipe Massa while passing the Ferrari at Melbourne this year. On both occasions one of the cars involved suffered damage.
If, as Coulthard mentions, the crash comes up for discussion in future drivers’ briefings, a reminder to drivers not to pull out of the slipstream too late would certainly be appropriate.
Especially as FOTA prepares to introduce adjustable rear wings next year, which could increase the chance of the kind of scenario Coulthard describes.
Read more: Webber hits Kovalainen and flips (Video)