Mike Gascoyne has laid the blame firmly at the feet of Mark Webber for the spectacular collision that sent the Australian sky-bound and removed Heikki Kovalainen from contention in Sunday's European Grand Prix in Valencia, sarcastically musing that 'Mark has now had two accidents in three races and it's never been his fault...'
occurred as Webber – who had lost ground with a torrid opening lap and early pit-stop around the Spanish street circuit – came up behind Kovalainen's significantly slower Lotus Racing machine on lap nine of the race.
After admitting to getting 'a massive surprise' at just how early the Finn braked – some 80 metres sooner than he himself had braked for the same corner the previous lap – the New South Wales native smashed into the back of his rival at unabated speed, sending his Red Bull Racing flying up into the air at nigh-on 200mph, where it did a somersault before landing again, flipping back over and spearing off into the tyre barriers, mercifully and miraculously without harm to either driver.
Webber's argument in the aftermath of the shunt was that with a car some four-to-five seconds a lap slower than his, Kovalainen should have realised the futility of fighting doggedly over the position when he would only have been able to stay ahead for maybe 'another 15 seconds' in any case given that 'it's a different category that the new teams are in' [see separate story – click here
]. Lotus chief technical officer Gascoyne, however, perhaps predictably begs to differ.
“Obviously neither driver wanted it to happen, but Heikki was driving in a straight line, defending his position and then someone hit him from behind,” the Englishman told Press Association Sport
, “so where the mistake lies is fairly clear from our point-of-view.
“Mark charged up behind Heikki and he had a much quicker car. Heikki had to brake where he braked because of the grip he had. At the end of the day it's up to the guy overtaking to do so safely, and Webber didn't. If you hit someone from behind, it's not the fault of the guy in front. Heikki braked where he was supposed to brake and someone hit him.
“[Webber] was under pressure because he was having a bad race, but he wouldn't have wanted that. We didn't want it either, because we are trying to race our own race and it's one of those things. It's motor racing; it happens. The most important thing [is that nobody was injured].”
Gascoyne went on to remark that in the wake of Webber's contentious Turkish Grand Prix coming-together with RBR team-mate Sebastian Vettel last month – for which the majority of paddock observers held the German fully responsible – 'Mark has now had two accidents in three races and it's never been his fault', but Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was rather more magnanimous, describing the Barcelona and Monaco winner as 'blameless' and adding 'I don't blame Heikki for it either...he's a pro and was racing a car that's a great deal slower'.
Whilst Webber has insisted he will be fighting fit for Silverstone next weekend – conceding that 'the hits were pretty hard and I'm a bit tender here and there, but no worries...it's halfway through the championship and I'm still incredibly positive' – Gascoyne was left to reflect that Lotus' landmark 500th grand prix had sadly been a race to forget, with founder Colin Chapman's attending son Clive sadly witnessing one car smashed to smithereens and the other finish plum last, four laps down.
“It was a shame, but again that's motor racing,” mused the former Jordan, Renault, Toyota and Force India F1 man. “You can have cracking races when you don't expect them, and then you can get unlucky. That's life. It was still a good milestone, it's nice to have passed it and it was great that the Chapman family were there to celebrate it with us.”