Coming to the European Grand Prix at Valencia, Mark Webber was in a firm points position with the two front running drivers of Lewis Hamilton and reigning world champion, Jenson Button. The Mclaren duo topped the drivers championship my a slim margin of 6 points and a win at the track would put the Redbull driver first in the championship.
The Telefónica Grand Prix of Europe, held at the impressive street circuit of Valencia, was to see the introduction of technological changes as the pace of the season heated up. Webber had qualified behind his German teammate, Vettel, in the second Rebbull ahead of Hamilton and the Ferrari pair of Alonso and Massa. At the get away Webber lost track position to Hamilton and the overtake slightly damaged the McLaren and the leaders then settled down to put in their first stint of the race before the first pitstops. Webber found himself overwealmed by the attack of the other drivers and ended up down in 9th at the end of the first lap; on lap 8 he pitted for new tyres and this reduced him to 19th.
On Lap 9, Webber was approaching the much slower Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen. On the approach to turn 12 Webber collided heavily with the rear of the Finnish driver’s Lotus causing Webber to somersault to 2 meters from the track surface. Webber landed upside down heavily on the nose and airbox and then immediately flipped back upright after “tripping” on the curb on the inside of turn 12. He then slid helpless, impacting – at around 280 kph – the substantial tyre wall on outside of the turn; the car coming to a rest a few meters from the wall having been ejected back out onto the run off area. Kovalainen and his Lotus were pushed to the left of the track on the straight where the impact occurred.
Immediately the Safety Car was deployed the drivers formed up behind the Safety Car. However, Hamilton overtook the Safety Car as the Safety Car exited the pits. This was a mistake from Hamilton as whilst the Safety Car was not on the track – it was still on the pit exit – it had crossed the Safety Car line before Hamilton and thus Hamilton should have remained behind the Safety Car. Hamilton received a drive through for the infraction but this – controversially in Ferrari’s eyes – did not affect the race outcome and the results were Vettel, Hamilton and Button. This put Webber 24 points behind the leads and at risk of slipping back too far from the leaders.
No punishments were handed out to either driver for the incident. Kovalainen and Webber were fighting for position and Kovalainen can be seen to move over once to block Webber from overtaking, Webber follows Kovalainen to keep the drag but too late notices the massive speed difference between the cars; the collision was therefore inevitable. Pundits remarked that Kovalainen should have moved out of the way for a faster moving car, but it was for position and it was Webber who should have been aware of slower moving cars.
|Approximate speed of crash.||Between 280-300 kph|
|Damage caused.||Two cars too damaged to continue, one DHL advertising sign destroyed|
|Who / what was to blame||Webber, it was a miscalculation as to the actual speed of Kovalainen|
|Any action against those involved?||No|