Red Bull Gives Webber Wings In European Grand Prix Crash

Illustration for article titled Red Bull Gives Webber Wings In European Grand Prix Crash

At Le Mans in 1999, Mark Webber suffered two identical crashes in a Mercedes–Benz prototype, launching straight into the air on the Mulsanne Straight. Little did he know that history would repeat itself at the 2010 European Grand Prix.

Illustration for article titled Red Bull Gives Webber Wings In European Grand Prix Crash

Young Webber was a member of the Mercedes–Benz team returning to Le Mans after an absence of 44—or eight, depending on how you count—years, campaigning the slick-looking CLR prototype, which would prove to be an aerodynamic failure of epic proportions.

Advertisement

During qualifying and warmup, the car rocketed into the French sky not once but twice with Webber at the wheel, then, in the race proper, Peter Dumbreck suffered the same fate.

Note: This clip shows Dumbreck’s accident, with commentary by Webber. No footage was taken of Webber’s shunts, but you can see the aftermath of his second flip in this video at 02:33.

It is a testament to modern racing car construction that both drivers escaped unharmed, but as the 24 Hours of Le Mans is primarily a ground race, all remaining

Illustration for article titled Red Bull Gives Webber Wings In European Grand Prix Crash
Advertisement

CLR’s were withdrawn after Dumbreck’s backflip.

Fast forward 11 years to the harbor circuit of Valencia, home to the 2010 European Grand Prix. Mark Webber, driving a Red Bull, closed in on Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus, touched his right rear wheel, and launched into the air in an eerily similar fashion. Contrary to late ‘90s Le Mans footage, we have multiple angles of the surprisingly sterile carnage:

The commentary you hear is by Lotus technical director Mike Gascoyne and former F1 driver turned BBC pundit David Coulthard (Scottish accent!), who had a long and heated post-race conversation about an issue which has affected Formula One since the beginning of this season but which has not come to a head in such a dramatic manner until this race, namely that there’s currently a massive speed difference between the leading cars and the new cars in the back of the pack. Normally, these cars don’t race for position, but when they do, as was the case here, interesting things will happen.

Advertisement
Illustration for article titled Red Bull Gives Webber Wings In European Grand Prix Crash

In an entirely unrelated note, Valencia Street Circuit is quickly turning into the new Monaco in that you can watch the race from a swimming pool in the company of scantily clad European women hopped up on champagne and Red Bull. And similarly to Monaco, the passing will not distract you from the curves.

Advertisement

Photo Credit: Formula One, Ker Robertson /Allsport, AP Photo/Fernando Hernandez, Mark Thompson/Getty Images

Share This Story

Get our newsletter

DISCUSSION

I had to mute that video because Mike Gascoyne was annoying (he was 3 weeks ago on live TV too). Heikki was not driving in an arrow-straight line like he said - granted it wasn't weaving, more like indecisive defence - and Mr. Webber did not "miss his braking point". The Lotus car braked earlier than he expected - a whole 80M before Mark's braking point, according to RBR boss Christian Horner - I would imagine this is where the performance gap becomes an issue. He was getting as much slipstream out of Kovalainen as possible, a valid technique, and it all went pear-shaped.

*Breathes*

Anyway, that was a cool crash. I actually have it on my iPod. What was really good was that he just threw the 'wheel out, clambered out the car and walked to the garage to get some new underwear. It's proof of how strong and safe these cars are. So is the Indy 500 crash from this year.