Heikki Kovalainen and Sébastien Bourdais pointed the finger of blame at one another following their coming-together in the British Grand Prix that removed both from the action as they battled down the order at Silverstone at the weekend.
After finding himself boxed out on the run down to Copse for the first time, Kovalainen slipped back six spots from his 13th grid position on the opening tour and from thereon in spent his time trying to play catch-up. Emerging from his late first pit-stop on lap 35 just in front of McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton, the Finn ceded the place to the sister Silver Arrow into Stowe, but was then rammed from behind under braking into Vale just a matter of corners later by Bourdais' Scuderia Toro Rosso, after appearing to counter the Frenchman's effort to overtake at the very last moment. Predictably, the two failed to agree on whose fault the incident had been.
“Of course it's disappointing not to finish the team's home race,” Kovalainen reported, forced to call it a day on safety grounds due to damage to the rear of his MP4-24. “Until my retirement, the car had been working fine and the strategy was working for me too; we were on target. Then Bourdais just ran into the back of me and damaged the left-rear corner. I had to stop because the damage had made the car undriveable; we decided to retire for safety reasons.”
“Regarding my collision with Kovalainen, he changed line twice,” contended his assailant. “At the exit to Stowe, I was on the normal line and he went to the inside; I moved to the outside, then he moved over so I moved across to the other side and he changed again.
“He braked early, because he'd only just left the pits on full tanks and cold tyres. I was trying to out-brake him, but he should not have changed line like that. It was frustrating, and then at the end I lost water pressure and had to stop in the garage.”
Multiple former British Grand Prix-winners McLaren and STR both left Silverstone empty-handed, with the surviving cars of Hamilton and Sébastien Buemi taking the chequered flag respectively 16th and 18th. It was, all-round, a dispiriting day indeed.
“A race to forget,” summarised Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug. “Our performance was by far not where it has to be, and not where it was when we won five of the last ten races here on this classic racetrack. We should not talk a lot now but rather work a lot.
“Congratulations to our German friend Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing and Mark Webber for a very impressive performance and a clearly very dominant one-two. This was the most impressive performance of the season so far.”
“First of all, well done to Red Bull for a fantastic job,” echoed STR team principal Franz Tost, “especially the drivers, Vettel showing incredible pace in the early stages, with he and Webber easily controlling the race.
“For our part, we were off the pace this weekend, and apart from some small technical problems we were not at the level at which we expected to be. One of the reasons is that we are suffering from the lack of new specification aero parts. We will have these for Hungary, when I expect and hope that this will bring us back to the front end of the midfield.”