Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber was lucky to walk away uninjured from the European Grand Prix at Valencia in Spain today after his race came to a violent end early on.
Webber, who had started second, had a bad start and was down in ninth at the end of the opening lap. With little to lose, he became the first driver to stop for fresh tyres on lap 8. However, the gamble became academic, when his Red Bull cartwheeled over the back of the Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen following a misunderstanding while battling for position.
Riding up over the right rear of the T127, the Australian was turned skywards before coming down on his rollhoop. The car then rolled back onto its belly and skated at barely abated speed into the turn twelve tyre wall and rebounded into the run-off area.
Fortunately Webber was able to throw out the steering wheel and clamber from the wreckage unaided, before being ushered into the medical car. Kovalainen, too, was unhurt, despite losing his rear wing and being fired into the retaining wall.
“I was going a lot faster than Heikki and then a long, long way before the braking point he braked - about 80m before - and at that point I'm a passenger,” Webber said. “The car, thank God, was very safe. I am OK, I lost some points, but in the end when you're up there, you're not worried about points, I was worried that I was OK and ready for Silverstone. You cannot control where you are going and how hard the hits are going to be.
“Of course, the hits were pretty hard but it's good that I am OK. It was my Monte Carlo and Barcelona winning chassis and one which has secured a lot of pole positions, so the chassis has been good to me, and it has been good to me today as it saved me from some injures. I remain incredibly positive, we go on, it's half way through the Championship. Bloody hell, let's get on with it.”
Red Bull Racing team boss, Christian Horner meanwhile was just thankful that his driver wasn't seriously hurt in what was a very scary incident: “The most important thing today is that Mark Webber is safe and OK. After a very nasty accident, he's fine,” Horner added.