Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi was lucky to get out of his car unharmed this morning in Free Practice 1 in China after a massive accident at the end of the back straight.
Buemi, who drivers for the Scuderia Toro Rosso team, was doing approximately 195mph on the straight which is fed from a high speed banked turn not long before the end of the lap on the Shanghai Circuit, when disaster struck. A failure of the upright structure caused the front right tyre to detatch from the vehicle, but the failsafe mechanism caused the front left tyre to part company with the STR4 chassis as well.
As a result of losing both front wheels, Buemi was a helpless passenger as his Red Bull branded car went toboganning down the straight and into the gravel trap before catching a concrete wall and sliding to a halt in the sand.
The driver was shaken and alarmed, and ran back to his team garage to argue with his mechanics about what had just happened. He was incenced at the dangerous situation he was in.
A Toro Rosso spokesperson told us that an upright on the front right hand side of the car, which had been re-designed for the weekend had suffered a “complete and total failure”. The subsequent pressure load forced onto the opposing component on the left hand side “was far too much for it to cope with” and that failed too. It was a new design brought in for this weekend. Alarmingly, the wheel tethers failed and the two front Bridgestone tyres were flung across spectator fences. It is unknown is Toro Rosso will recieve a fine and reprimand for this, as safety with tyres is paramount following the death of Henry Surtees in F2 last season, the young 19 year old was struck a fatal blow to the skull from a loose tyre via a failed wheel tether.
Buemi said this evening, once calmed, that he is prepared to drive again tomorrow.
“The track was really wide there, with a lot of run off. It looked quite spectacular but from inside the car, it was not so big. Afterwards [once the car stopped], it took a bit of time to understand what happened, but it was not too bad. Something broke, and it happens. We’ve changed the [parts on the] car, and it will be fine to go out again. As a driver we don’t think about it any more.”
“It is a bit difficult because we don’t really know how the car is going. We have [Jaime] Alguersuari’s data so we have to study that for tomorrow, as going into FP3 means we will have a lot of work to do, to be ready for qualifying.”