Manor Formula 1 driver Pascal Wehrlein said the Shanghai circuit’s pit straight bump meant he could not see standing water in his “scary” Chinese Grand Prix qualifying crash.
Wehrlein brought out the red flags in Q1 after hitting a small crest along the start-finish straight where standing water had gathered on one side on a drying track. On super-soft tires, rookie Wehrlein was then left helpless as his car careered off into a barrier, severely damaging the left rear, leaving him unable to continue.
A long red-flag stoppage followed while circuit officials tried to clear the water using sweeper vehicles.
“I saw the track was wet, but I didn’t see the standing water because you can’t see it if it is after a bump,” said Wehrlein. “I saw that it was wet and on the straights it is not an issue, but if there is a bump and standing water it is. It was definitely a scary moment because you are going quite fast on this part.
“I am disappointed and unhappy. If you lose the car in a corner it is your mistake, but if you lose it on the straight [it is] something really strange.”
Asked whether with hindsight it was the right call to head out onto the circuit on super-softs when everyone bar the Manors picked intermediates, Wehrlein replied: “If it starts to rain after a few minutes then it was the right decision. At the end you could see that it wasn’t and it was too wet on this part.
“You could blame many people – you can blame myself; you can blame us because we took the wrong decision; you can blame the FIA because maybe it was not safe to be allowed to go out on slick tires over this bump when the track is wet. You can blame many things, but the result is the same.
“Afterwards, of course, you think you could have done something different, or with different decisions you could have avoided it. But I don’t think about that because the result is the same and if you blame other people it is still the same result. I never work like that. It happened and tomorrow is another day.”
Wehrlein, who will start 21st, one place ahead of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, has confirmed being uninjured, and is confident the car will not require any changes that would incur a penalty.
“I think it [the car] will be fine, although a five-position grid penalty wouldn’t be so bad.”