Kubica Survives 75-g Impact

by : Anthony Fontanelle

After the 2007 Canadian Grand Prix, there are two issues discussed in the Formula One circle. The first, of course, is the maiden win by the rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton who showed his composure even with four restarts which reduced his lead to nothing. Time and time again after the restarts, the British youngster took the lead and eventually won the race.

While McLaren was celebrating after the race, the BMW Sauber pit shows mixed emotion. That is because they finally managed to secure a podium finish this season after Nick Heidfeld placed second after the race. On the other hand, the team faced a horrifying crash which was suffered by Heidfeld's teammate Robert Kubica.

Much to the relief of everyone, the Polish Formula One driver only suffered a minor concussion and a sprained ankle. Kubica though was not cleared for the United States Grand Prix.

Recently, the crash data taken from Kubica's onboard accident data recorder has been disclosed to the public. In what is described by many as the most horrifying high-speed crash in recent memory, it was initially speculated that Kubica took a 60-G impact. But after carefully analyzing the data from the accident data recorder, it was announced that the Pole survived a 75-G impact.

Only the construction of Kubica's Formula One car saved him from a potential severe injury or even death. It is calculated that Formula One drivers normally experience 5-G while braking, 2-G while accelerating and 4-G while cornering. This means that the amount of g-force experienced by the Polish driver is potentially fatal. In Formula One history though, the highest amount of g-force survived by a driver is 179.8-G survived by David Purley.

The accident data recorded or ARD is built into the BMW Sauber Formula One car just like its steering wheel assembly, suspension parts such as BMW strut mounts and the like. The device measures 15 by 15 centimeters and has a capability of recording every data for a whole race.

The ADR on Kubica's car was studied at Indianapolis by Peter Wright. Wright is a former Lotus engineer and is currently the head of the FIA safety commission. Wright worked with his colleagues Andy Mellor and Hubert Gramling.

After going through the data taken from the ADR, the trio reported that every safety feature of the Formula One car complemented each other and worked to perfection allowing Kubica to survive the 75-G impact. The report stated that the amount of g-force taken by Kubica peaked at 75-G in a millisecond. If the said force is sustained for a much longer time, the Pole may have been severely injured.

Willy Rampf, BMW Sauber's Technical Director, is, of course, contented with the way their car provides safety for their drivers. "While we were completely shocked about the violence of the accident, we were over the moon to see Robert relatively unharmed and were very content about the behavior of the chassis as survival cell," says Rampf.

"We are never doing any compromises regarding the chassis, never going nearly to the limit regarding weight for instance. We stay always on the safe side and that paid off. One must not forget that such a cell is quite complex, consisting of over 1,000 parts of carbon fiber, Kevlar, honeycomb structures and metal," he adds.

BMW Sauber is expecting Kubica to return to the seat of his Formula One car at the upcoming French Grand Prix.