Paul Cheung. Chiropractor, Red Bull F1 Team
Mark Webber Memories
As team chiropractor, once the drivers are ready for the race, I switch jobs.
One of these was holding the pit board for Mark in Monaco. I’d done the pit board before in Spain and some other grand prix but never before in the principality. The big challenge there is the incredibly fast lap times, which does not leave you much time to check the monitor, find the right information, put it on the board and then get the board held out in time for him going past the pits again. In this particular race, DC had crashed out earlier, so unusually for Monaco, I had the hole in the wall to myself. Monaco is normally really cramped, so to have all that space to myself was a real luxury. On one lap I decided to really hang the board out as far as possible to make it easy for Mark to see. What I hadn’t banked on was just how close to the wall the cars flash by and were it not for the fact I had a good grip on the board I very nearly dropped it on Michael Schumacher’s car as he flew past!
Nowadays I work as a rain spotter for the team, those who watch the F1 coverage nowadays will know just how much attention is paid to weather radars, tyre strategies and just how crucial timing a change of tyres can be. There is a team of us stationed around a circuit and we get to our out posts by foot, bike or even sometimes boat! Spa is probably the most challenging of all the circuits for weather at it can be pouring on one part of the circuit whilst the rest is dry as a bone.
Whilst on rain spotting duty in Valencia in 2010, I was stood on a bridge at the edge of the circuit occasionally glancing at the monitor to check how Mark and Sebastien were doing. Holding on to the railing, I spotted the replays of Mark’s accident with Heiki Kovalinen. Mark had clipped his rear tyre and as Mark was travelling significantly quicker, it launched him up in the air, flipping the car over and landing upside down, before bouncing and hitting the tyre wall at very high speed. It was only when they showed mark getting out of the car seemingly uninjured that I realised just how hard I was gripping on to the railings!
The fact that Mark only suffered some bruising is testament to the design and strength of the modern F1 car, but also to the fitness and training that he does. An accident like that puts a drivers body through significant G-forces. Safety remains paramount in all our preparations and watching that accident again, it is quite amazing how far F1 safety has come
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