Pit Stop

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 08 July, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 08 July, 2010, 12:00am

I wonder what was going through Mark Webber's mind when he found himself flying upside down in Valencia. Whatever it was in that split second, it probably wasn't the plans for an adjustable rear wing from next year. With a bit of time for reflection though, he and other drivers may be worried the development might prompt more spectacular crashes.

Webber's crash was down to the early braking of Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus. The new teams have been so much slower than the others this season that many in the paddock predicted it was just a matter of time before this happened. Kovalainen's car was so technically inferior to the charging Red Bull that it had to brake 80 metres before Webber was thinking of doing so.

The fear surely must be that any other device that boosts one car's speed suddenly while at close quarters could cause another bad accident. If nothing else it's a confusing nonsense, which many drivers fear will dilute the 'purity' of racing. From next season the drivers will be able to open up the slot gap in their rear wings which will increase their straight line speed.

Now here's the ridiculous bit. If the car has managed to get to within one second of his rival in the previous sector, the other driver won't be allowed to respond in kind. It's going to be a headache even for those clever people on the pit wall, and a really busy time for the stewards. You imagine the drivers will be less than pleased to have yet another thing to operate in the cockpit.

The admirably plain speaking Webber puts it in a nutshell; 'It is good for the PlayStation, but I don't know how well it is going to work in F1. Overtaking moves should be about pressurising, being skillful, and tactical. Yes, we want to see more overtaking, of course we do, we know that, but we also need to keep the element of skill involved in overtaking and not just hitting buttons, like Kers (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems), like adjustable rear wings'.

Webber, by the way, has changed the chassis for the British Grand Prix. Incredibly, the chassis that got chewed up in that accident could have been repaired and will remain as a spare through the season.

Silverstone is sold out this weekend, with 120,000 people set to watch the race despite it being on the same day as the World Cup final. The tickets were sold long before England were dumped out of the football by Germany - ironically on the same day a German won in Valencia. The fans are being rewarded with a new layout. The English circuit has built a new 'arena' infield section which will make this fastest of fast circuits even more challenging. It's great to see the plans for improving this old track coming to fruition after securing its long-term Formula One future. As much as the new circuits add glamour and a change of scenery, it's great to be in the middle of the season and hitting some of Europe's finest and oldest tracks.

The British fans this weekend could see a classic British battle if McLaren's championship-topping duo hit their stride.

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton have two wins each this season and are shaping up to scrap all the way for the title if they can pull away from the Red Bulls. Former world champion Damon Hill threw a nice psychological hand grenade into the mix in the run-up to the race when he claimed the rivalry between the two will 'boil over'. He should know, having shared a garage with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

Finally, in this era of over the top bonuses, it's good to know that Formula One knows how to reward one of its brightest. For turning them into a title-challenging outfit, Red Bull have given technical head Adrian Newey last year's RB5 car. Luckily for those stuck in the traffic jams he won't be commuting to Silverstone in it, he plans to hire a track with some equally fortunate mates to try out his new toy.