Lotus ace Kovalainen: I am not to blame for horror smash

Heikki Kovalainen believes his 190mph horror smash with Red Bull's Mark Webber could have been much worse - as Lotus marked their 500th Grand Prix with disappointment in Valencia.

Heikki Kovalainen believes his 190mph horror smash with Red Bull's Mark Webber could have been much worse - as Lotus marked their 500th Grand Prix with disappointment in Valencia.

The Finn was racing for position with Mark Webber's Red Bull on lap 10 after the Australian endured a torrid start to the European Grand Prix.

But as he tried to get the best tow on Kovalainen's T127, Webber got too close and was launched into the air before bouncing upside down, somersaulting back on its wheels and ploughing into a tyre wall.

The crash ended both drivers' races, but fortunately they emerged unscathed.


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'First of all it's good news that both of us are OK,' said Kovalainen. 'Mark had a hardcore flight and it could have ended up much worse, so it's good we are both fine.

'It's such a shame the race ended that early - I was going really well, pulling away from the guys behind by about half a second a lap, and with Mark we were racing for position so I was always going to defend.

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'I didn't do anything wrong and he just ran into me. I think he missed his braking point and he ran into me at a very bad angle - his front tyre hit my right rear and he took off.

'I had to make a mandatory visit to the medical centre, and shook hands with Mark there, but I'm absolutely fine and glad Mark is too.'

However, Webber was a little less passive about the incident that left the drivers' title contender pointless for the first time this season.

'I feel a bit tender here and there; it was a nasty incident,' said Webber. 'Clearly I was surprised by what was happening on the run down to that corner. I thought Heikki was letting me go because obviously the pace difference was massive.

'Then he started closing the door and having these small movements and I was thinking where is he going? Then he braked or lifted, whatever, about 80 metres before where I braked for the previous lap - so it's a different category to what had happened the previous few laps.'

Lotus were celebrating their big landmark in Spain, but left having to settle for Kovalainen's team-mate, Jarno Trulli, coming home last of the finishers, in 21st - and no thanks to an early pit stop to change a damaged front wing.

'I don't know exactly what happened at the beginning as I managed to get away from the mess at the front but I was hit from the back and at the same time lost my front wing,' said the veteran Italian. 'It all happened during the first lap, so I thought it was the end of the race for me, but I managed to get back to the pits and the mechanics did a great job to fix the car.

'I went out but had a gearbox problem, so more good work from the boys got me back out and I was then able to run to the end.

'I did the whole race with one set of tyres and I felt the pace throughout was very good. The handling was great, so I'm happy about the performance and when I pushed I was able to put in some really good lap times.'

Chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne added: 'Obviously it was a very disappointing end to our 500th race. Jarno got hit at the start, and we had to change the nose. He also took a hit at the back, and that caused a gearbox problem. We were able to fix that and send him out again, although he was three laps down. He was held up by some of the other slower cars, but at the end of the race he was able to push and really show the car's pace. Heikki had an accident with Webber - he was defending his line and racing for position, and that's what we will always do in that situation. It's just a great shame and we're very glad that neither driver was hurt.'

Webber's team-mate Sebastian Vettel held off the McLaren of championship leader Lewis Hamilton to take the chequered flag, with the second McLaren of Jenson Button third.

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