An uncharacteristic mistake in the closing stages of the race saw European Arrows driver Mark Webber crash out of fourth place in round five of the FIA F3000 Championship at Monaco.

After making a strong start from seventh position on the grid, Webber moved into fifth on the opening lap after front row men, David Saelens and Sebastien Bourdais, tangled at the first corner. The Australian quickly hauled himself onto the tail of his former F3 sparring partner Enrique Bernoldi but, with overtaking at a premium around the twisty street circuit, Webber's only hope of passing was to press the Brazilian into a mistake. After several laps of pressure, Bernoldi duly obliged, crashing out of the race on lap 32.

The removal of Marc Hynes' damaged machine then necessitated the Safety Car for a couple of laps and, although this enabled the field to close up, Webber was unable to take advantage of the situation and never really looked comfortable as the race moved into its dying stages. The Australian headed a five car train as he tried to defend his position for the final three laps but eventually lost control as he exited Tabac, and crashed heavily into the barriers.

''Monaco is everything they say it is - it's so physically and mentally demanding, it's not funny,'' said a disappointed Webber, ''For sure, it's the toughest race I've ever driven in and I'm kicking myself that I couldn't keep it together for another three laps.''

While fourth place would have been sufficient for Webber to draw level with Nicolas Minassian for second place in the championship, he continues to maintain a comfortable third position as the series breaks for a month before resuming at Magny Cours on 1 July.

European Arrows team-mate, Christijan Albers, also failed to finish when he spun out of tenth position on lap 35, having climbed the order from 22nd on the grid.

''It was hard work - there were a lot of cars going off all around me and I had to take avoiding action,'' the Dutchman reported.

''Both drivers drove a very solid first half of the race,'' team boss, Paul Stoddart, commented, ''Mark has put his hand up and admitted he made a mistake towards the end of the race, and he's probably feeling a bit low about it at the moment. But, it was his first time here at Monaco, and I don't think he should be too disappointed. We know we've got a lot of work to do in the championship now, but we 're still third and we're looking forward to it resuming at Magny Cours next month.''



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