News Round-up: Heikki, Sydney & A Great Line From Coulthard

News Round-up: Heikki, Sydney & A Great Line From Coulthard

A few stories have emerged this Monday morning, but the most important one surrounds Heikki Kovalainen, who has spent the night in hospital, but is absolutely fine. Also making headlines today are Australia, who are contemplating the future of Formula One in their country. And I’ll finish off this quick round-up with a humorous line from David Coulthard, uttered to the media after his incident with Timo Glock in yesterday’s Spanish Grand Prix.

Heikki Update

Heikki Kovalainen had a sizable accident on lap 22 of yesterday’s race at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. The Finn appeared to suffer some kind of wheel/tyre failure and left the track at approximately 140mph. Slamming in the tyre barrier almost head on, it is now clear why the marshals who attended the scene looked so concerned on initial arrival. Kovalainen was briefly knocked unconscious following the accident, although a CT scan has ruled out any head injury other than a concussion.

The team is optimistic that he will make a full recovery over the next few days. Ron Dennis.

It was initially suggested a stone may have become lodged between the wheel rim and the tyre, causing the failure on the MP4-23’s front-left boot. Dennis has since stated that it looks likely to have been a rare wheel failure, but as of yet there is no absolute answer to what caused the incident.

As the above photographs show, Heikki was lucky to escape with only a concussion. His car went very deep into the tyre barrier and the front-end was pretty much destroyed by the brunt of the impact; much credit is deserved to the strength of modern-day Formula One cars.

Eastern Creek Is Evaluated

The Australian Grand Prix has a contract in place to run the race at Albert Park up until the end of the 2010 season. However, Bernie Ecclestone is insisting on a night-race for the event, allowing Europeans to awake at a regular hour to watch the event live. Albert Park organisers are not keen on a night-race though, citing the massive costs as unreasonable.

But wanting to ensure Australia remains on the global motor sport calendar, Sydney’s Eastern Creek circuit may be able to help out. The circuit was built in 1990 and hosts an A1GP event as well as V8 Supercars and Superbike races. The circuit will require some modifications though to bring it up to Formula One standards, which is why a feasibility study has been announced.

Strong competition from emerging nations to secure major motorsport events threaten to marginalise Australia, with a resulting loss in status and tourism potential.

The impending closure of Oran Park Raceway in Sydney’s south-west will leave the Sydney basin with only Eastern Creek Raceway, and its use is already at near full capacity. John Cotter, President Australian Racing Drivers’ Club.

Coulthard Moans About Moaning

David Coulthard and Timo Glock have escaped penalty following their on-track skirmish yesterday. The incident at T5 forced Glock to pit for a new nose, and Coulthard had to come in for a new wheel to replace his punctured tyre. However, speaking afterwards to the media, David expressed his displeasure at the incident but took time to offer explanation and defend his actions.

I think I’ve said enough, haven’t I? In my last column I did the whole thing on how I wish people would know that my eyes face out front, they don’t face back. What you see on the video footage is not what I see in the car.

You make a commitment and what I do is make it clear whether I am moving out of the way or taking an early line. It seems to have worked through most of my career, so I don’t know what has gone wrong this year.

There will be all this stuff about my age and the oldest driver getting involved in all the incidents, which you can fuel the flames or not, but I don’t know what I can do. Should I just drive off the circuit and let all these people by? David Coulthard.

Coulthard went on to explain that for most of the race he wasn’t with Glock, but as team mate Mark Webber was in a more commanding position, he was allowed to take priority in the pit stops, which slightly delayed Coulthard and allowed Glock to catch up towards the end of the race.

It seems Coulthard is getting frustrated by the amount of incidents he has been involved in this season, this being his third. David retired from the Australian Grand Prix after contact with Felipe Massa, and at Bahrain he had a coming-together with Jenson Button. The Button incident was, in my opinion, not entirely Coulthard’s fault, but it is interesting to note that each of these crashes have occurred when a driver has attempted to overtake the Red Bull on the inside line into a corner.

It is unbelievably difficult to overtake. You lose so much downforce following the other cars, and I think there is an element of that… David Coulthard.

However, Coulthard’s finest quote from this incident:

It is terrible, but who is interested in hearing about me complaining about people running into me? David Coulthard.

I could harp on about SpecSavers, but that would be unfair. Coulthard is too experienced to make errors like these and while he can be a little tempestuous at times, the Scot is also aware that in order to finish first, first you must finish. It was briefly discussed in yesterday’s LiveBlog of the race that the mirrors are not helping drivers this year. It seems that in order to make the cars more aerodynamically efficient, the devices that are so essential in seeing what’s behind you are being neglected.

The mirrors on Formula One car’s were never all that great, but moving them away from the drivers vision, combined with added vibration from the engines which is made worse by their positioning leads me to think that this, combined with Coulthard’s suggestion of a lack of downforce, is causing some of these on-track altercations.


  • Morning, Ollie.

    Great article, but may i question why there is an absence of expandable images since the redesign? I would appreciate witnessing Heikki’s mangled McLaren in greater proportion, however this is impossible.

    Kovalainen’s incident sent shivers down my spine… it was shockingly similar to Burti’s huge impact at Spa early in the decade. In a cruel coincidence, i had previewed that very video clip only several days prior to this recent occurance. Furthermore, this is a testament to continual protection evolution, as only a handful of years have passed since the incident that effectively ceased Burti’s career.

    There must be some form of regulation to improve rear visibility, as current universal standards are simply not acceptable at this level of competitive motorsport. Dare i say these constricting pillars are hindering more than helping?

  • Morning Jamie! Yep, expandable images went with the redesign. I’m sorry. The honest answer for their sudden vanquish is simply this; I felt they were unnecessary at the time. Of course, as I was typing this post on yesterday’s fine Monday morning, and being the first since the redesign where I have included images within a post aside from the top one, I too thought, “You can’t really see what’s going on in the photo”. πŸ˜€ The lightbox plugin I was using before was quite ‘heavy’, and being well aware that I was already pushing the boundaries of what is considered acceptable (the site is still too slow), I decided to get rid of it. I am working on finding a better solution though, so hopefully in the future we’ll see a return of expandable images.

    Yes, Burti’s incident went through my mind as well, as did many other incidents in the past. Thankfully Heikki’s okay and it is credit to the strength of the cars. I fear the tyre walls need some work though, as I briefly touched upon in a more recent post, but that’s another argument for another day.

    The pillars, or winglets, or flappy wotsits probably don’t help with rear visibility, but I think the main issue is with the changing of their position. They used to be mounted from the side of the monocoque, but recently the teams have been fixing them to the top of the sidepod. This means the mirrors are being subjected to more vibrations, the sidepod not being so central and therefore not so ‘grounded’ as the driver’s cockpit. These vibrations, plus the actual movement of them, I think is causing them to become essentially redundant.

    I’m sure Coulthard will have further more statements to make though, as it seems to be him who is suffering more than most. I’ve made an internal bookmark to think more about the mirrors in the future though, so maybe I can uncover some more details as to why they don’t appear to be working as well. You know, it really could come down to DC ignoring advice and not going to SpecSavers. πŸ˜‰

  • why don’t you ever link to the sources of quotes, for those of us who would like to read further?

  • why don’t you ever link to the sources of quotes

    That’s a fair point, nik. Most of the time I receive such things via email, and they come either as PDF or HTML (I think that’s the correct term – a fancy looking email). However, as most stories are covered by a variety of news sites around the web, I could link back to one of these. Not all sites carry each part of the story though, so that may add confusion. I’ve never really bothered to see where the original statements and whatnot are published, but guessing they must be I’ll look further and see if I can in the future.

  • Oliver, I think its something you should do (even when it is by email, just saying ‘via email’) as it first allows readers to follow up with sources, and makes it a bit more professional (not saying your not, this blog is great – just a little nit pick πŸ™‚ )

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