European Grand Prix: Ode To a Mighty Fine Chassis

Antony Herbert@LeeUwishWritingAnalyst IIIJune 27, 2010

VALENCIA, SPAIN - JUNE 27:  Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull Racing drives during the European Formula One Grand Prix at the Valencia Street Circuit on July 27, 2010, in Valencia, Spain.  (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
Ker Robertson/Getty Images

Three years ago, a crazed lunatic ran into me at 80mph on the motorway. In an ordinary road car this was supposed to have been a terrifying and nightmare inducing accident.

My Ford Fiesta though had other ideas. It shielded me like the third little pigs brick house. I came out the other end unscathed. The car was undriveable and would end on the scrap heap, but I was alive.

It turned out I was annoyed more by the shattering of a recently brought CD, rather than the damage caused to my car.

Old cars are built like that, though. If it had been a new breed of machine then I may not have been so lucky.

New road cars are designed to be powerful but not necessarily as solid. Such is the demand from the public.

It was nice then to see another portrayal of the continuing brilliance of safety within the world of Formula One.

Mark Webber had his very own Ford Fiesta in today's European Grand Prix. Not only did he sprout Red Bull wings and fly above Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus, he also did a back flip, gave a salute to the sun and lost the outer limits of his car in the process.

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His cockpit remarkably remained beautifully in place. The tyres had been long forgotten as he smashed into the barriers at an alarmingly high speed.

His race prospects, already dwindling, at that point were destroyed. You have to assume that his title challenge may also have taken a beating.

Yet, he emerged from his seat as easy as pie—it was as if he was ready to run into a spare car and start it all over again.

He even raised a smile for the cameras when we were given a flash of his return to the pit-lane. Anyone who had failed to see the shunt may have believed he had suffered an excruciating engine failure, or something to that effect.

Never in a million years would you have thought you were seeing the aftermath of an intense collision.

So once more, for the all those mechanics and designers who have formulated these incredible chassis, I salute you.

For all of us who follow the sport, we know that we can continue to witness the fierce and competitive on-track action. And we know that this is action that can allow catastrophic racing incidents resulting in nothing more than a scratch.

At worst the driver may suffer a fate similar to Felipe Massa and miss a few Grand Prix races.

We have, therefore, moved far away from expecting fatalities for similar incidents. Never again will a Senna be taken from us. We are deeply secure in this knowledge, every time such scenes come into fruition and little is affected as a consequence.

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