Coulthard throws twist into complaint about new teams’ lack of speed

The headline on a story out of Australia is a bit misleading: “Cap top speeds, says F1 veteran.”

If you’re like me, your first reaction is: “What?!”

But that isn’t quite what the F1 veteran, in this case David Coulthard, is saying. Check this out:

Mark Webber’s former teammate David Coulthard has called for much greater parity in the top speed of formula One cars following the Australian’s terrifying accident in Spain.


“The discussion in the drivers meetings is that huge closing speeds is a dangerous thing on the race track,” Coulthard said.

He described Webber’s incident as “a perfect example of that”.

“Obviously the Red Bull (has) massive top speed relative to the Lotus and it just catches the drivers out.

“You don’t want to have more than six, seven eight kilometres an hour difference between the fastest and the slowest cars.

“I think the FIA and the drivers and the designers will be having a conversation about that after this terrible incident.”

The issue could get worse next season, the former Red Bull driver says, with the addition of KERS and moveable wings.

Interesting. I feel like the usual focus of the newer/slower teams vs. faster teams is more on the traffic created and the moments when the backmarkers get lapped, but Coulthard, in my mind, has narrowed that focus down to a few dozen, maybe 100, meters.

It also sounds like the 107% rule is not even enough for DC.

Does this spin on the argument hold any water for you? It sounds reasonable, but I also think there are other factors, such as downforce, involved. Webber’s accident with Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus seems mostly to be a matter of Kovy having to break a lot earlier than Webber expected, simply because the Lotus is not on par with the Red Bull. Might what DC is suggesting affect strategies at some of the tracks when teams go for less downforce vs. more to take advantage of a car’s agility in corners vs. top speed on a straight?

I suppose as I think about it, my reaction goes back to a basic one I have with F1 regulations: Don’t make them overly complicated (ala the safety car right now). The 107% rule makes sense. But I feel like what DC is suggesting — and I totally support his focus on safety — might be different at different tracks. Monaco is not Monza, after all.

Finally, no, I can’t end this post — Grace would fly across the country and throw a can of Red Bull at my most precious parts — if I didn’t note the irony about DC speaking on safety and avoiding crashes. Although, in his defense, during his Red Bull years he rarely got far enough into a race to actually test the car’s top speed!

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