Webber, Gutierrez handed penalties for collisions

By Chris Lines, AP, 14 April 2013
© AP Photo/Mark Baker

Red Bull driver Mark Webber and Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez were penalised for causing collisions at Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, and handed grid penalties for next Sunday's race in Bahrain.

Webber was given a three-place penalty for colliding with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne in an incident that ultimately ended his race, as a wheel fitted at the resultant pit-stop came loose inside a lap.

The Red Bull team was fined €5,000 ($6,555) for releasing him from the pits with the wheel not correctly fitted.

Gutierrez received a five-place penalty after crashing heavily into the rear of Adrian Sutil's Force India, ending the grand prix for both drivers. Sutil made it back to the pits with a fire in the rear of his car and damage too severe to continue.

Eight other drivers, including championship leader Sebastian Vettel and second-placed Kimi Raikkonen, were investigated for using the drag-reduction system under yellow-flag conditions but were cleared by stewards.

Webber admitted culpability in the collision with Vergne, trying to squeeze inside the Toro Rosso at the final hairpin but crashing into the right of Vergne's car as the Frenchman turned in.

"I was coming from a reasonable distance behind but he knew I was there," Webber said. "It looked like I was going to get past him and then he went for the apex. It's disappointing.

"One view looks like Jean-Eric is giving me the line, the other looks more like it is (my fault). It compounds an amazing weekend for me."

Amazing was a benign way to put it. Coming off the team orders furore at the previous race when his teammate snatched away the victory Webber should have had, the Australian's time in China saw him publicly excoriated by teammate Vettel, run out of fuel in qualifying, start from the pit lane, crash into Vergne, have his right rear wheel come off, and then suffer the grid penalty.

No wonder Webber cast his eyes to the heavens in exasperation as he strode away from his three-wheeled wreck.

Gutierrez too accepted he was in the wrong for taking out Sutil, saying he was concentrating on holding off Mexican compatriot Sergio Perez of McLaren.

"I was braking at the same place where I usually brake, however, didn't anticipate the loss of downforce and the amount of speed I had," Gutierrez said. "I tried my best to stop, but didn't succeed. It was definitely my fault, and I apologise to Adrian and to his team."

 

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