• Chinese Grand Prix

Webber penalised for Vergne clash

ESPN Staff
April 14, 2013 « Front wing damage costs Raikkonen | Vettel 'disappointed' to miss out on podium »
Mark Webber retired from the race after a wheel was not fitted properly at his second pit stop © Getty Images
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Mark Webber has been given a three-place grid penalty at the Bahrain Grand Prix for his part in the collision with Jean-Eric Vergne at the Chinese Grand Prix.

Webber hit Vergne on lap 15 as they challenged for position into turn six, damaging his front wing and the side of the Toro Rosso. Both cars continued but when Webber pitted for a new front wing his right rear wheel was not fitted properly and came off on his out lap.

The incident came after a difficult weekend for Webber in which he ran out of fuel in qualifying, was sent to the back of the grid and then had to work his way back through the field. Speaking before the penalty had been issued by the stewards, Webber said he thought Vergne was going to let him past before the pair made contact.

"You could not script it, could you?" he said. "The qualifying was an absolute nightmare and then I got dropped to the back of the grid. The start of the race was going okay and we elected to get rid of the other [soft tyre] quite quickly and then regrouped from there quite quickly by coming through the field.

"Then we got to Jean-Eric at turn six and, yes, I was coming from a reasonable distance behind but he knew I was there. Initially under braking I thought Jean-Eric was being very co-operative under braking and I thought that's fair enough and we'd roll round there together and he'd give me some room. But then he came down [towards the apex] and I couldn't get out of it at that point. It probably looks quite clumsy, but it was disappointing that we made contact."

Webber said he was hopeful of salvaging a result after the collision but then the wheel came off his car following his pit stop.

"[The damage] still wasn't the end of the world really because I was only a couple of laps short of our stop window and we came in and changed the nose. As far as I know the guys thought the tyre was fixed when I left but the wheel came off on the out lap."

Asked whether a team like Red Bull should be making so many mistakes in one weekend, he said: "We had some problems but that can happen. As a complete team we don't want to make a habit of those."