Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne has hit back at claims that Heikki Kovalainen should never have tried to race hard against Mark Webber in the European Grand Prix.
Webber was recovering from a frustrating early part to the Valencia race when he tried to overtake Kovalainen on the run down to Turn 12. But the Australian was caught out when Kovalainen braked earlier than he had been expecting – and his car was launched into a terrifying somersault before smashing into the barriers.
Webber himself reckoned the accident was totally unnecessary, and that Kovalainen should not have tried to defend so strongly against the much faster Red Bull.
"What's frustrating was that this accident should never have happened," Webber wrote on his website. "I understand as well as anyone that F1 isn't a charity event; you have to fight for every position – but not when you're five seconds off the pace and you have one of the quickest cars in the pack behind you.
"I mean, how long was Heikki going to stay ahead of me? Another 15 seconds? He must be asking himself whether it was worth it."
But Gascoyne has jumped to the defense of his driver – and reckons Webber simply made a mistake.
"Heikki was right to defend because it was for position," he told AUTOSPORT. "I don't care who you are. End of story. All this A-team, B-team stuff, forget it. If it is for position, around here you can defend – and if we had kept him behind us for 40 laps, then great. If we had ruined his race, then absolutely great!
"Are we saying [Gilles] Villeneuve at Jarama [in 1981] should have let the four cars past him? Or was it one of the greatest grands prix of all time? Should a Force India be letting a McLaren past simply because it's faster? Where do you draw the line? It is a motor race, isn't it?"
Gascoyne believes that Webber was at fault for the crash, having made an error in misjudging where Kovalainen was braking.
"Heikki was going to have a great race, he was driving away from the new teams and with the incidents we could have picked something up – but, unfortunately, we were the incident," he said. "Mark rushed up, it is the first corner he's got him and he has smacked into the back of him. The guy was driving in a straight line and braking – sorry. Do you have to ask the question about who was at fault?"