Despite his morning practice accident not appearing too serious, Mark Webber
looks set to be ruled out of qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix.
The Australian speared off at Degner 2 in the latter stages of Saturday morning's hour-long session, but walked away from the shunt. His RB5, however, was not so fortunate, and Red Bull
Racing team boss Christian Horner has confirmed that Webber will need a new chassis in order to compete on Sunday after damaging the front of the monocoque and pulling the steering rack away from its mountings.
According to the F1 regulations, any change of car requires the new machine to be fully scrutineered and, with no slot available until Sunday morning, Webber is going to have to cool his heels in the Red Bull
garage while team-mate Sebastian Vettel
leads the team's quest for pole on a circuit where the RB5 has looked strong.
"Mark was on a really quick lap towards the end of P3 - he'd just set his fastest first sector," Horner confirmed, "It was a really unfortunate incident, which is quite costly. It means we have to make a chassis change this afternoon, so he won't be able to take part in qualifying.
"We'll have to re-scrutineer the new chassis in the morning, which will necessitate him starting the race from the pit-lane. So, not a good start to the weekend."
Horner also confirmed that no decision had been taken on whether Webber would start from the pit-lane or the back of the grid, but that appears to be the least of the Australian's worries.
His absence from the front of the field will aid Brawn GP's bid for the constructors' crown, as Red Bull
needs to score seven points more than its rival on Sunday to prevent the title from being decided with two races to spare.
"You think of the preparation that goes into a weekend like this, so to not have the opportunity to do the race from a decent grid position is very tough for all of us – especially the guys in the garage," Webber sighed.
"We made a few changes to the car for the final run and I lost control when it bottomed-out through turn eight. It wasn't a big crash by any means, but it did too much damage to the chassis, so we have to change it. We don't have spare cars these days, so that's the outcome and it's a shame.”