The physics of Webber’s Valencia crash

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

Have a look at the current issue of Red Bulletin for an interesting perspective on Mark Webber’s terrifying crash with Heikki Kovalainen in Valencia.

Professor Thomas Schrefl does the maths on Webber’s aerial flip and comes up with some fascinating figures:

Doing the maths we see that the potential energy and the rotational energy take up about one to two per cent of the kinetic energy. After hitting the ground, Webber?s car slides towards the tyre barrier. Sliding means friction. The frictional force is FR = ??mg, whereby ?? is the friction coefficient between the car and the ground. The work, FRs, done by the frictional force is calculated simply: force times distance to the barrier. Friction reduces the kinetic energy by roughly 10 per cent.

From the reduced kinetic energy we find the velocity at which Webber hits the barrier to be around 280kph (174mph, 4, 5).
Professor Thomas Schrefl

He reached a height of two metres during his brief flight seen in the video below:

Find the full article in the current issue of Red Bulletin.

Read more: Webber hits Kovalainen and flips