Aston Martin Racing's Jan Charouz blamed low downforce rather than a mechanical failure for his dramatic crash on the Mulsanne Straight during qualifying last night.
Charouz lost control of the No. 007 Aston Martin Racing LMP1 under braking for the second chicane, bounced off the barrier and then spun through the gravel trap.
"I wasn't doing a super-quick lap," Charouz told AUTOSPORT. "It was just like any other. I had my brake balance to the front, just to be safe. Everything was normal. Then, when I came to the second chicane, immediately when I touched the brake I locked up the rears. At that speed, with that level of downforce, you have no control over what happens next. I just waited for the impact and fortunately the tub didn't crack."
Despite the high-speed nature of the accident, the damage to #007 is repairable and it will start the race from eighth position tomorrow.
"The impact speed was 168mph. It was lucky because the first hit was on the corner of the car and it sort of bounced off, so I had a little bit more time to brake it down before I hit something else.
"I was just hoping not to take off, because that's what these cars do when they go sideways at that speed. I'm happy to be okay and that the car is fixable. The only thing I'm worried about is that what happened was so unpredictable, and it's the same thing that happened to Jos [Verstappen] at the test in Monza. So I guess we'll have to look into why it happened and how to prevent it from happening again."
Charouz ruled out the possibility of mechanical failure, but explained that the Aston Martins are having to run a very low-downforce configuration to make up some of the performance deficit to the faster diesels.
"I don't think something broke; it's just something inherent in the car when we're running low downforce. You hit the brakes hard and it just locks up."