Button to the fore as Buemi suffers major crash in first practice

2010 Chinese Grand Prix first practicePosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Paul di Resta appeared for Force India again in free practice one
Paul di Resta appeared for Force India again in free practice one

Jenson Button headed the first practice session for McLaren at Shanghai.

But the session had to be stopped for ten minutes after Sebastien Buemi suffered a shocking accident when both front wheels came off his Toro Rosso.

The Swiss driver experienced the failure at the fastest point on the Shanghai circuit under braking for the turn 14 hairpin.

The front suspension on the car appeared to fail in the braking zone for the corner in a manner similar to Kimi Raikkonen’s crash at the Nurburgring five years ago.

Buemi’s STR5 went straight on and came to a halt in the gravel trap with the driver mercifully uninjured. The session was re-started for six minutes before the chequered flag came out.

Two other teams suffered breakages over bumps at the circuit. The front wing on Timo Glock’s Virgin at turn one and Jarno Trulli lost part of his Lotus’s diffuser at the same corner.

Fernando Alonso suffered his second consecutive Ferrari engine failure in six laps as his Chinese Grand Prix weekend got off to a bad start.

Alonso was supposed to be testing Ferrari’s version of McLaren’s F duct. But he completed just half-a-dozen installation laps, not even getting chance to set a time before his F10’s engine blew.

The McLaren drivers were first and second for much of the session, but they were split by Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes before the end.

Michael Schumacher in the second Mercedes was fourth ahead of Sebastian Vettel and the two Renaults.

Update: According to Lotus it was a front strake which came off Trulli’s car, not part of the diffuser.

Pos. Car Driver Car Best lap Laps
1 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’36.677 15
2 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’36.748 0.071 17
3 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’36.775 0.098 19
4 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’37.509 0.832 14
5 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’37.601 0.924 20
6 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1’37.716 1.039 17
7 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’37.745 1.068 25
8 6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’37.980 1.303 17
9 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1’38.008 1.331 13
10 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’38.098 1.421 19
11 17 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’38.161 1.484 19
12 23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’38.375 1.698 21
13 22 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1’38.421 1.744 19
14 10 Nico H???lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1’38.569 1.892 20
15 15 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1’38.618 1.941 26
16 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’38.678 2.001 17
17 16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’39.939 3.262 5
18 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1’41.531 4.854 22
19 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1’41.779 5.102 23
20 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’41.830 5.153 20
21 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1’42.181 5.504 27
22 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1’43.875 7.198 23
23 20 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1’43.949 7.272 20
24 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 6

2010 Chinese Grand Prix

Browse all 2010 Chinese Grand Prix articles

61 comments on “Button to the fore as Buemi suffers major crash in first practice”

  1. I threw this into the end of the chat, but in case you missed it here’s the failure on Youtube for while it lasts.


    1. That is just bizarre. In all my years following racing, I’ve never seen an accident like that.

    2. if it’s something like this
      i could see how one failure in the middle assembly could blast apart both sides

    3. I love how he still tries to counter-steer even though he lost his front wheels :P

      1. He tried to counter steer, but I found it even funnier when he let go of the wheel when the car hit the gravel to avoid breaking his thumbs… even though there was nothing left connecting his thumbs to the gravel trap. I guess when all that is happening at 200mph in a matter of about 4 seconds, it’s all just racing driver instinct. He wasn’t not going to do it.

        Not that there’s anything funny about that crash though. It’s probably the most bizarre I’ve ever seen, even worse that both tyres cleared the catch fencing, but they must have picked up even more speed as they were thrown clear of the car.

        1. “they must have picked up even more speed as they were thrown clear of the car.”

          this is clearly impossible. they just appeared to speed up because they were going so fast relative to the car. they were probably still travelling at close to 190mph because there was nothing much to slow them down.

          1. Err wrong. Ajokay is actually correct, he just didn’t articulate himself properly.
            The car and tyres were going at the same the same speed until the suspension sheared off. At this moment, the car bottomed out and slowed down, thereby as the tyres were no longer attached to the car anymore, and the car had slowed down, the tyres were actually travelling at a higher speed than the car (the initial speed of the car) – which is why we saw accelerating away in front of the car, and not beside them.
            It is the same way a passenger continues travelling forward in a vehicle collision. The passenger being the tyres in this case – Newtons 1st Law of Motion

          2. Which is exactly tombo says:

            “because there was nothing much to slow them down.”

          3. Mouse_Nightshirt
            16th April 2010, 13:47

            kbdavies, that is exactly what tombo said. He is right in his assertion that it would be impossible for the tyres to actually speed up.

          4. That’s right. I actually mis-read Tombo’s reply!

          5. Correct Tombo. Newton’s Law Force = Mass * Acceleration. There is no force acting to accelerate to wheels faster than the initial car speed, although there are air resistance forces and frictional forces from the road when they contact the floor, so the tyres are decellerating, just at a slower rate than the car, so appear to accelerate.

            To summarise, BOTH the tyres and car DECELLERATE after the incident, just at different rates.

            There is NO acceleration of the tyres, simply because there is no forward force acting to accelerate them.

        2. Eh? if the nose hit the barrier hard and he was still holding the wheel he could still break thumbs, wheels on or not…

    4. Red bull is lucky this accident could have stopped their cars if STR and RBR were the same this year

      1. by the way i love those side mirrors i think everyone needed to read a littlle better it was after the chinese gp

  2. Has anyone else come to the conclusion that the practice and qually are becoming more exciting than the race???

    A fast as ever Keith, thanks ^^.

    I still think the Re Bulls look like the car to beat…

  3. Ferrari said they had no worries about Alonso’s engine, and then it goes kaput. At least it didn’t happen in the race!

    1. Nick Someone
      16th April 2010, 5:02

      Lets wait and see how long his new new engine lasts. :-)

      It’s a shame. I wanted to see how Alonso’s car went with its new F-duct.

  4. Nick Someone
    16th April 2010, 4:58

    Wow. Buemi’s car exploded into bits! never seen anything like that before. It was lucky there was so much run off area there. There wasn’t a great shot of it on TV, but the tyres shot on and bounced up over the fence.

    If someone had crept into the garage and put a small explosive charge in the front wheels and triggered it it wouldn’t really have looked any different.

    I wouldn’t want to be the engineer who screwed all those bits together right now. They do amazing jobs fixing everything together so fast with little sleep. …Maybe not this time though. it will be interesting to find out the reason it happened. I imagine it would help to actually get the wheels back. At least one was nabbed by that Chinese fan though. :-) …I wonder where he is going to put it in his house. It will make a great addition although his wife might not be too pleased.

  5. That camerman was extremely lucky. The wheel was flying at him at an incredible speed. From the on board shot it looked like he hardly moved although it was quite hard to tell.

    1. Nick Someone
      16th April 2010, 5:06

      Yeah lucky too that there isn’t a major grandstand there for the wheel to have bounced into. It’s much harder to avoid a tyre when you have to clamber over seats packed with people. Was it in San Marino when a spectator was killed by a tyre?

      1. Nick Someone
        16th April 2010, 5:06

        1994, same event where Senna died i think.


        1. No fans died, although I believe there were a few fan injuries.

        2. damonsmedley
          16th April 2010, 5:14

          It was, but the spectator was only injured I think, not killed.

      2. Yorricksfriend
        16th April 2010, 5:18

        in Australia in 2001 a Marshall was killed by a tyre from an accident between Ralf and Villeneuve

        1. There was another at Monza in 2000

      3. Fans have been killed in oval races in the states when wheels have gone into the crowds – not for a few years now though. It’s very uncommon in F1, the last such incident I remember was when two fans were killed at Fuji in 1977.

        But this just goes to show that, like they say, motorsport is dangerous. I wonder how much the wheel tethers helped here? They obviously didn’t keep the wheels attached to the car but did they help decelerate them or did they just fail completely?

        1. Andrew White
          16th April 2010, 10:36

          The tethers were attached to the upright beam on the suspension, which was the bit that failed. So they were useless in this accident.

        2. I read a crazy stat about the Indy 500. Spectators have been killed before but in 1932 Wilbur Brink was a 12-year old boy playing in his yard across the street from the track. As the result of an accident during the race, a wheel bounced over the fence and struck him, killing him instantly.

          Not even at the race and he was killed by the debris. A weird and freak accident :(

        3. “Fans have been killed in oval races in the states when wheels have gone into the crowds – not for a few years now though.”

          A spectator died in late February of this year (I don’t remember the date) at Phoenix during a drag race. A tire came off of one of the drag racing cars during an NHRA race and went into the crowd and killed a female spectator.

  6. golarrazabal
    16th April 2010, 5:04

    Does Alonso’s blown engine count toward the 8-engine limit?

    1. Jarred Walmsley
      16th April 2010, 5:24

      in a way, it was the engine used in Bahrain free practise, so it was a used engine, so he still has 5 left I think

      1. Six by my count, assuming he can’t use the two blown at Malaysia and China any more. He’s got five new engines left.

        1. Howcome 5 new ?
          He used 2 in Bahrain (1 for quali and 1 in race which he had blown today in FP1 china).

          One he blew in Malaysia.
          One he used in Aussie GP.

          SO he has 4 NEW engines left.
          So he would use the Aussie GP engine for the FP2,FP3 and Quali and a new one in race

        2. Jarred Walmsley
          16th April 2010, 6:20

          Thats what I was meaning as old engines don’t count towards the limit if changed in do they? So he has 5 new engines to put in, it will be four after China

  7. theRoswellite
    16th April 2010, 5:05

    Eastman………..good post.

    Amazing footage. Looks like the design tolerances may have been too close to the edge? (the twin failure hardly caused the chassis to veer left or right)

    It will be interesting to hear how Toro Rosso explains the failures.

  8. 2 engines down this early in the season is a bad start for alonso. Lucky for buemi,I hope the teams are penalized for such mistakes.

  9. How much of that car is still Newey’s work? We know that guy makes a hella fast but fragile car. We saw Coulthard’s suspension fail, we know about the MP4-18/19.

    1. According to Autosport, the crash was caused by an upright failure. The upright was a new design introduced for this weekend, so probably not designed by Adrian Newey.

  10. On this photo above we see 200.000 empty seats.
    Why are we in China anyway?

    1. Mouse_Nightshirt
      16th April 2010, 13:50

      It’s practice, I’d have more hope for the actual race.

  11. That is one massive structural Failure. spectacular, but puts in doubt how the Torro Rosso is built… never seen anything like that in my life… good thing he’s uninjured and no one was close to him when that happened…. TR have a lot of explaining to do i bet…

  12. the way that both sides collapsed is worry some… two failures at almost the same point on either sides… Sabotage? I said it first… LOL

    1. Ivan Vinitskyy
      16th April 2010, 14:10

      5G deceleration proved too much for 2 tires, do you think 1 tire could handle that even given proper upright?

    2. Ivan Vinitskyy
      16th April 2010, 14:14

      fastest pit stop of 2010? )

  13. I won’t get hysterical but wings collapsing, wheels blowing right up. How many incidents have we had? What’s worrying is that this could be repeated as how do they prevent this? Think we have been lucky noone has been hurt. The cars staying together seems to be the safety issue now rather than cornering speeds.

    1. Luckily this happened today and not in the race! More testing would reduce the likelihood of this happening on a crowded race track. Oh wait, testing…. [doh]

  14. Report says that it has landed in a spectator place is everybody in the crowd ok?

    1. What crowd is that then?

      Bernie has done more to increase crowd safety than the FIA ever as, just by making it too expensive to get to see it in the first place! LOL

  15. On a related note, if I was at a grand prix and a bit of car came flying towards me…. assuming I managed to dodge it and pick it up: can I take it home?

  16. I remember a friend of mine doing just that…and then wishing that he hadn’t because the piece of car he had picked up was a very hot engine part. LOL

  17. Wow, those wheels were in a hurry to get off that car.

  18. Very Scary indeed at least all involved are ok but somebody in the design room has some explaining to do!
    To MattB i assume anyone who gets parts off a broken car can keep them, i remember christian Klien crashing in front of us at Albert park a few years back and after the race heaps of people were scavenging through the tyre wall after the race to find bits of broken car!!

  19. I know the teams are trying to find ways of adjusting the ride height, but that’s ridiculous…

    It’s a big relief Buemi’s accident happened on a Friday, in China. Safe modern track with lots of space and not many spectators to hit. Makes me wonder how safe that Abu Dhabi grandstand is that’s above the run-off area.

    Also, would low-profile tyres have helped – would the wheels not have bounced so far?

    1. Perhaps, if the tire had a stiffer sidewall it would’ve bounced less. Also a shorter sidewall would be less able to absorb impacts, so the wheel may have been broken on one of it’s earlier impacts. However I imagine it would’ve made little difference in practice.

    2. Yikes, I’ve just heard what’s happened to Natacha Gachnang – Buemi’s cousin – at exactly that spot in Abu Dhabi…

      Gachnang crash halts GT1 qualifying

      I hope she’s back in action soon, that’s one of those unsettling coincidences we get in racing from time to time. If any other Buemi family members are racing this weekend, please be careful out there…

  20. Wow, lots of local interest in the race it seems…..

  21. This is one of the few accidents we’ve seen lately where the gravel trap was more effective than paved run-off would’ve been. In the gravel the tea-tray dug in and slowed the car pretty effectively (from what I’ve seen). However, had it been paved run-off the car likely would’ve slid nearly at speed into the tire wall.

    1. This is exactly what happened to Natasha Gachnang in GT1 today in Abu Dhabi. She went under the grandstand onto the colored run-off area which is supposed to have extra grip to slow the car down, but she didn’t seem to slow down much before hitting the shock absorbent barrier.. Maybe if there was gravel she might have slowed down more?

      The gravel seems to be doing it’s job in slowing cars down, but if the car goes on it, it may be the end of the race for the driver whereas in other run-off areas they can just turn and get back on track.. Maybe only risky areas should have gravel, but then again it’s hard to predict where one is going to have a serious crash..

  22. Buemi’s crash was quite dramatic and remarkable. Thankfully he was unscathed as there was lots of run-off but the poor lad was a little shaken-up understandably when he got back to his pits…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.