Mercedes defends decision

Mercedes has broken its silence on the horrific accident that forced it to withdraw from the Le Mans 24 hours. In a single page press statement the three pointed star defended its controversial decision to take the start of the race following two almost identical crashes when Australian Mark Webber flipped backwards in Thursday qualifying and again in the warm-up for the race on Saturday morning

Mercedes defends decision

After stating his happiness at the safe return of driver Peter Dumbreck Mercedes head of motorsport Norbert Haug declared; 'The decision giving clearance to race was not an easy one, but after intensive investigation of the data it was, from our point of view, not at all a gamble at that stage.

'We conducted an intensive inquest into the reasons for Mark Webber's accident and were convinced we had found a solution. As a precaution we added splitters to the front of the cars, creating 25% more downforce, which we checked on both number five and six in the course of the morning warm-up.

'With hindsight we now know better, but with the data we had this morning we were convinced of having made the right decision.' Finally he added; 'I want to stress that safety is an essential core aspect of our motorsport involvement.'

No reason was given for the accident, which saw the CLR take off while following the Toyota of Thierry Boutsen and flip spectacularly backwards over the guardrail and into the woods. However, the fact that it occurred in exactly the same place as Webber's first crash has led to questions being asked over the safety of the CLR.

The team's pre season testing was conducted at Fontana, Magny Cours and Hockenheim all of which have almost perfect track surfaces. Le Mans, however, uses ordinary roads for much of the lap. This will draw criticism over the level of preparation for this most daunting race.

The number five car that Dumbreck was driving is still lying where it came to rest and will not be returned until the race has been completed at four o'clock on Sunday. It will be at that point that Mercedes can begin to look for the answers to the flood of questions currently being fired at it.

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