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Red Bull's F-Duct Caused Webber's Crash in Valencia?

Mark Webber's airborne crash during last weekend's European Grand Prix in Valencia may have been caused by the brand new F-duct system debuted by his team in Spain. At least that's how the Italians from Autosprint look at it, supported by some interesting footage from Webber's cockpit before the accident.

For starters, the new F-duct system developed by Red Bull for their RB6 is hand-triggered, meaning the driver has to activate the device in straight line by blocking a hole in the cockpit with his hand. In Red Bull's case, the driver needs 4 fingers of his left hand to block the airflow towards the rear of the car, while the fifth finger stays on the steering wheel.

As far as the footage from Webber's cockpit goes, it shows that Webber indeed activated the F-duct in straight line, leaving only one of his left fingers on the steering wheel. Right before hitting the rear of Heikki Kovalainen's car, the images show that the Australian driver immediately put his left fingers back on the wheel in order to dodge the T127 at the last second.

Unfortunately, we all know what happened next, as the impact could not have been avoided and the RB6 did a backflip somersault before crashing into the tire barriers.

It's worth mentioning that Red Bull was actually not the first team to try out a hand-operated F-duct. While McLaren Mercedes – who practically invented it – focused on knee management when it comes to F-duct activation, Ferrari and BMW Sauber-Ferrari have both debuted, initially, hand-operated devices.

In both cases, however, the activation of the device raised safety issues, as the drivers needed to drive with practically one hand in straight line (the other one blocking the airflow from within the cockpit). At the time, Red Bull's team principal Christian Horner was one of the first ones to argue against such a system, claiming that “drivers driving with fingertips and no hands ... is a safety issue.

 
 
 
 
 

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