29 May 2011
Perez accident could have been worse, admit drivers
The decision to modify the run-off area at the Monaco chicane probably saved Sergio Perez from a worse fate, fellow drivers have admitted.
Both Jenson Button and Mark Webber believe that action taken in the wake of Nico Rosberg's heavy accident at the Nouvelle Chicane prevented Sergio Perez from suffering a worse fate when he suffered a similar incident during qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix.
Both Rosberg and Perez joined a growing list of drivers to have their cars snap sharply into the barriers on the descent from the tunnel to the chicane, with the German lucky to avoid making contact with the end of the wall separating the run-off area from the circuit as it rounds the chicane. Perez, however, was not so fortunate, his Sauber slamming broadside into the Protec barriers surrounding the divider and leaving him concussed and in need of assistance from the medical teams.
Perez's accident had eerie echoes of that suffered by Karl Wendlinger in 1994, just days after the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at Imola. The Austrian, coincidentally also at the wheel of a Sauber, remained in a coma for several weeks and failed to recover sufficiently to resume his F1 career long-term. Although Wendlinger went on to enjoy a career in sports and GT cars, F1 observers have been waiting for the next victim of that particular stretch of Monaco's infamous street circuit, with Button himself coming closest after careering into the edge of the same barrier and then down the escape road in 2003.
"The cars have improved dramatically in terms of safety since Karl Wendlinger's accident, and the barrier has been moved back since my accident, so there have been improvements, but we need to find a solution because we all love racing here," the Briton commented, "It's a very special circuit for us and there's so much history, but there's a couple of areas [that need looking at].
"That is the main area really, I think, [and] it's an area that we need to discuss and try and come up with a solution [for], because we all think the same thing. We all want it to be safer there, so we can really come here and really enjoy the racing.
"I obviously had a big accident there in 2003 and I know [Perez] will be very well looked after. He has probably had all the x-rays and everything by now. He is probably already shouting 'I want to be in the car, let me get back in the car,' which is what I was doing. I am glad he is okay and hopefully we will see him back soon."
While Button voiced his concerns about the run from tunnel to chicane, he admitted that there was also an element of blame to be carried by the current breed of F1 car.
"It's when you first hit the brakes, the rear goes very light," he explained, "For some reason, it seems to be more of an issue this year, which surprises me, because of the blown diffuser systems that a lot of us have. But the rear goes very light and, at that point, you become a passenger if you get oversteer. You have no control of the car and it's pitching you into the right-side barrier.
"Then the problem is that you lose braking capability, because you've got two wheels off the car and it's just a sled, just sitting on the floor. I'm really happy that [FIA safety delegate] Charlie [Whiting] made the right call and took away the speed humps after Nico's accident because I think, if they had been there, the [Perez] accident would have been even worse.
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