Former F1 star-turned BBC F1
pundit David Coulthard has called for there to be less disparity between the top speeds of the fastest and slowest cars in the top flight, describing as 'dangerous' the kind of accident that occurred when Mark Webber slammed into the back of Heikki Kovalainen in last weekend's European Grand Prix.
Erstwhile F1 2010 World Championship leader Webber was working his way back up through the field when he caught Kovalainen's substantially slower Lotus Racing machine. After admitting to being taken completely by 'surprise' by just how early the Finn braked into Turn Twelve on lap nine of the race around the Valencia Street Circuit – about 80 metres sooner than he himself had done the previous lap – the Red Bull Racing hit the Lotus at almost 200mph and somersaulted terrifyingly in the air before coming down to land the wrong way up, righting itself again and then smashing into the tyre barriers, thankfully and miraculously without injury to either driver.
The Australian's former team-mate Coulthard has described the incident as 'a perfect example' of the need to urgently rectify the situation, with a four-to-five-seconds-a-lap discrepancy currently existing between the pace-setters and 2010 newcomers Lotus, Virgin and Hispania (HRT). Unless action is swiftly taken by governing body the FIA, the Scot warns that with the likely return of the power-boost KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) device and introduction of moveable rear wings next season, the issue will only be exacerbated.
“The discussion in the drivers' meetings is that huge closing speeds are a dangerous thing on the race track,” the 13-time grand prix-winner and veteran of some 246 starts at the highest level is quoted as having said by The Associated Press
. “Obviously the Red Bull [has] massive top speed relative to the Lotus, and it just catches the drivers out.
“You don't want to have more than six, seven, eight kilometres-an-hour difference between the fastest and the slowest cars. I think the FIA and the drivers and designers will be having a conversation about that after this terrible incident.”
However, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is keen for even more power for his cars in 2011, with the common consensus being that the Renault engine presently in the back of the Adrian Newey-designed RB6 is somewhat breathless compared to the Mercedes-Benz benchmark. The Englishman is eager for the FIA to try again to equalise engine power, having failed to successfully do so this year.
“I think if you look at basic studies you would say we are about three per cent down on power, which is probably about 30-35bhp,” he mused. “Through the regulations, there is nothing that specifically deals with engine equality – and that is the problem.”