In the second qualifying session at Monaco earlier today, David Coulthard lost control of his Red Bull and after clouting the barrier once, skidded down the escape road at the Harbour Chicane and thumped the wall for a second time. Unfortunately, the television cameras only picked up a stray wheel initially, but having seen a replay of the first part of the accident, it is understandable why Coulthard considers himself lucky to have not been seriously injured.
Coming out of the tunnel and travelling at approximately 185mph, Coulthard applied his brake pedal to find his RBR4 twitch violently from the back forcing the front side into the armco barrier. This initial impact was quite a clout and it tore the front-right side of his car into pieces. From here on, in the experienced Scot was no more than a passenger as his car shot straight on at the chicane David was attempting to brake for and impacted the wall at the end.
Coulthard’s car was out of sight of the cameras when it made its second impact, but moments later footage was shown of the Red Bull being craned onto the back of a lorry, Coulthard having evacuated the car to run back to the pitlane. With no obvious injury David spoke to the waiting press saying that he felt the accident was his fault, suggesting that he simply lost it under braking. However, Red Bull are investigating the incident, now backed up by David himself, as replays suggest that it was perhaps more than a simple driver error.
The way the Red Bull twitched out from under Coulthard really was quite severe, and while the angle of attack on the wall is the normal way for a car to go under that kind of incident, it seems strange to have happened in the first place. I am not technical enough to offer a possible explanation for why the car behaved that way, but I cannot help but agree to an investigation.
After the first impact, I wished I was anywhere other than being strapped in a racing car. What I know, which you guys haven’t experienced, is that when you lose a corner you lose the brakes.
The corner has gone, so the fluid is open – you are pushing the brake pedal but there is nothing. At that point it is the luck of the gods whether you hit one wall or another wall – and today obviously I was lucky.
The second hit, when I got to the end of the run off area, I put my head against the headrest and I was ready for the impact. Then you don’t get the whiplash – but the first hit you don’t get a chance. I hit my elbow on something, but it is not too bad.
I have a sore head and a sore elbow, but I don’t want to go to the medical centre and get hooked up to stuff. I will see how I feel tomorrow, but I think I will be okay. David Coulthard.
Earlier in the year Red Bull had come under criticism for the construction of their car, Coulthard having experienced immediate disintegration of his car under minor impacts. Although Coulthard’s car had a fairly major impact today, one cannot help but wonder why the RBR4 is suffering so much this year, particularly at the hands of David. Of course, as Coulthard insists, it is possible that he simply lost his car under braking.
Obviously I lost control of the car when I hit the brakes – but I don’t know exactly why I lost the rear. I have braked many times into that chicane without problems.
The team will look at all the data, and try and understand that everything was in good shape. But until they say otherwise, I just have to presume that I lost the rear. David Coulthard.
The same corner has claimed the pride of many a racing driver in the past, Karl Wendlinger and Jenson Button immediately springing to mind. Button’s accident was as recent as 2003, the Briton having lost his BAR Honda and impacting the wall heavily during a practice session. Button was forced to sit out the race while he recuperated on the sidelines.
Coulthard, although a little sore, says he should be okay to race tomorrow. The Scot did well to get into Q3 along with his team mate, and despite not being able to take part (due to not having a car) he will start in tenth place. Coulthard tends to run well at Monaco, and he currently ties with Alonso with two previous victories at the track. In 2006 the Scot even managed a podium in his Red Bull, prompting a semi-nude but totally euphoric Christian Horner to jump into the Red Bull swimming pool wearing little more than a pair of Speedos and a Superman cape. Don’t ask…