Up front, if you were to go back through old F1B posts, I think you’d find that we are pretty big fans of Rubens. Still, that won’t keep us from pointing out the obvious:
Rubens! What were you thinking when you tossed your steering wheel?
I’m firmly in the camp that thinks angry emotions got the better of Rubens. This time last year he was with the winning team and, more or less, he was heading into his stronger part of the season. (Although, was it around this time that he had his most public tiff with the Brawn team?)
Still… it’s night and day to compare his 2009 and 2010. And at the time of his crash, he was running in the points, which are much more precious this season.
Given his situation, I think Rubens was plenty ticked off, and he expressed himself in a way that unfortunately was at least a little dangerous.
I actually have more reason to say this than just a sense he was “fed up.”
First, here’s the main quote from Rubens going around about his tossing his steering wheel, plus a little added defense from Patrick HEAD (hurray, a Patrick HEAD sighting!):
“I threw the steering wheel because I wanted to get out of the car as soon as possible,” he said. “After the shunt I was facing the wrong side of the track and the car was on fire.”
Williams co-owner Patrick Head also defended his driver. “If you are standing in the middle of a 120mph corner, you tend to think ‘let’s get out of here as quickly as you can’.”
OK. So that sounds reasonable, does it? Well, I’d like to add this comment into the mix, from Williams official race review:
What happened today was a real surprise. I had such a good start but the car started to feel really strange after the pitstop. The steering wheel, in particular, didnâ€™t feel normal. The problem continued to get worse and then I crashed. We now have to investigate the car to find out what the problem was.
The steering wheel, eh, Rubens?
Now, I may be putting 2 and 2 together and getting 43, but doesn’t it seem possible that after fighting the car, specifically the “steering wheel” all race, Rubens might have thrown it aside in disgust?
I’m just saying.
Also, I’ll toss this in from the Williams report:
Sam Michael, Technical Director:
That was not a good day for the team after a promising start for Rubens. Nico had a problem with the clutch paddle on the steering wheel during the formation lap. He then had a failure with the front wing mounting on the first lap of the race. Rubens had a fantastic start and was running in sixth when he started to experience poor handling after his stop. 11 laps after his pitstop, he had a failure at the rear end of his car.
More steering wheel issues, although for Nico Hulkenberg (was there really time for him to have a problem with the paddles, even during the formation lap? [Sorry Mark]), plus handling troubles on Rubens’ car.
I think it all adds up to a bad moment by Rubens, and one that deserves some fine or penalty for violating the rule that the wheel needs to be put back on the car. (But I bet he gets away with his argument, which essentially involves him playing the “safety card.”)