Hit me baby one more time

Webber & Rosberg crash, 2006 Brazi GP

With all the drama, tantrums and petulance of the last week its time to take a lighter look at intra-team contact in Formula One. Well, lighter in the sense of that well known formula: comedy = tragedy + time.

Mark Webber again takes centre stage in this story. And, again, he was shunted off track by his teammate. The team was Williams, the race was the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix.

After the jump you can see a replay of the contact between the two drivers. Also included is a written account of what happened. It is believed the report was originally sourced from autosport.com. The kick is at the end when Webber delivers a wonderful dose of dry Australian humour.

[Thanks to Wes & Sean for the tips]




Rosberg–Webber contact, 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix

One of the funniest descriptions came from Mark Webber after he and Williams team-mate Nico Rosberg tangled on the opening lap of the 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix.

They’d lined up 11th and 13th on the grid, a couple of hundredths apart and, in one of those moments guaranteed to send Patrick Head’s blood pressure stratospheric, they came together at Turn 4.

Clearly, they were at odds about what had happened.

Webber: “I was fighting with Jenson [Button] and Pedro [de la Rosa] going into Turn 1/2/3, but then I braked a bit late going into Turn 4 and found myself hit from behind.”

Rosberg: “After the start I was trying to get out of traffic and get back the place I had just lost to Jenson, so I was close behind Mark. I think he braked a metre early and I hit him.”

So, picture the scene. Webber’s car has a damaged diffuser, rear wing and, very possibly, a cut or punctured tyre. Rosberg’s has a damaged nose and front wing. And they both know that whoever is last back to the pits is going to be stacked behind the other. So they begin a less than gentlemanly race to get there first.

Meanwhile, Bernie’s TV guys have realised there’s been some drama and are busy teeing up action replays. They’re pretty quick and by the time Webber and Rosberg are halfway round the lap, there it is on screen. So now the Williams pit can see what’s happened. More to the point, they can see what’s damaged.

Formula 1 doesn’t follow the rules of the road, whereby if you hit someone up the chuff it’s your fault no matter what. In F1 the logic is that the front wing is a lot quicker to change than the rear. And so out goes the radio message to both drivers: “Priority Nico, priority Nico.”

But Webber is still in front and, as the man driven into, thinks “bugger that…”

Of course, in the Williams pit they are ready with Rosberg’s new nose and will be less than impressed if Webber arrives first. Through Mergulho and Juncao they come, Rosberg now trying to drive around the outside of Webber. But Mark doesn’t cede, forces Nico wide and he picks up a load of dust and junk on his tyres. Nico keeps his boot firmly planted but with the combination of dirty tyres and damaged front wing, he has the mother and father of a shunt on the outside of the quick left onto the main straight.

Does Webber think “oh dear, my esteemed team-mate appears to have had a rather hefty accident. I do hope he’s okay and hasn’t spoiled his hair”? He does not. His competitive persona is more Aussie rules football than ice dancing, so he thinks: “You beauty!”

Then, with perfect timing, the Williams pit comes back on the radio: “Priority Nico. Repeat, priority Nico.”

Now all but in the pitlane, Webber presses his radio button with a certain degree of enthusiasm: “Don’t think so, mate. Britney’s in the wall.”