Mark Webber has pointed the finger of blame at Heikki Kovalainen for the spectacular and controversial collision that sent both crashing out of Sunday's European Grand Prix in Valencia – asserting that to fight for position is futile 'when you're five seconds off the pace' and contending that the Finn 'must be asking himself whether it was worth it'.
There were audible gasps when Webber's Red Bull Racing lifted up into the air following contact with the back of Kovalainen's Lotus on lap nine of what transpired to be an unusually lively outing around the Spanish city's harbourside streets, before flipping upside down, landing the wrong way up and then righting itself again and slamming at scarcely-abated speed into the circuit barriers, thankfully and incredibly with no visible injuries to either driver.
The dramatic incident occurred after the Australian – having already made an early pit-stop, hence dropping down the order – attempted to slipstream his rival into a right-hander but got too close and appeared to get caught out by how early Kovalainen braked, with the resultant accident bearing worrying resemblances to his sportscar somersault at Le Mans just over a decade earlier and marking his first DNF of the campaign [see separate story – click here
As he insists he will be bearing no ill-effects from his 300km/h impact and that he will be fighting fit when the F1 2010 circus reconvenes at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix in just under a fortnight's time, the New South Wales native questioned whether, in the circumstances and given the catastrophic outcome for both, Kovalainen should really have defended his place quite so vigorously...
“I understand that F1 isn't a charity event,” the 33-year-old told his personal website. “You have to fight for every position, but not when you're five seconds off the pace and you have one of the quickest cars in the pack behind you. I mean, how long was Heikki going to stay ahead of me? Another 15 seconds? He must be asking himself whether it was worth it.
“Going down the back straight he went a little bit to the left, so I thought 'maybe he's going to let me go'. I wasn't sure what he was thinking, whether he was going to release me, because sometimes it's happened before that when you catch those guys they don't put up a fight, [but] then he went back to the right so I thought 'okay, he's going to fight'.
“I was in the slipstream, I looked to the left, he went back left and then as soon as I looked right, he braked. It was so far before the braking-point – it was 80 metres earlier than my previous lap... I couldn't believe it. In an F1 race, if you have someone braking that early, things like that can happen.
“My car felt like it was airborne for a long time. I had time to worry about whether there were any bridges at that point on the track which, luckily, there weren't, because I knew I was a long way up and not where racing cars are supposed to be. If there had been one, I would have hit it because I went pretty high, but the car stood up to the accident well.
“I feel a little tender and I've got some swelling, but after a few days off I'll be fine for Silverstone and I cannot wait to get back in the car. I have a few cuts and bruises, but otherwise I'm fine. There's still everything to play for – to be 24 points behind Lewis [Hamilton, world championship leader] is nothing when you consider that I scored 50 points in the space of eight days a few races ago.
“We're taking nothing for granted at Red Bull Racing; we need to continue working flat-out, because our rivals are bringing updates to every race. We hope the RB6 will be competitive at Silverstone because the track has lots of high-speed corners, through which our car excels.”