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Webber fancies a crack at Button
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Webber fancies a crack at Button
Posted By:   |  01 Jul 2009   |  12:41 pm GMT  |  24 comments

Mark Webber has come out with some perky quotes today about the second half of the season and his chances of having a run at championship leader Jenson Button.

Picture 41
Mark is 28.5 points behind Button (wish we could get rid of the half point thing, but without another rained off race we won’t be able to) and only 3.5 points behind his team mate Sebastian Vettel with a maximum of 90 points still available from the nine remaining races.

Webber needs to score an average of just over three points per race more than Button to beat him to the title. A run of Red Bull 1-2 finishes would start to make that a possibility.

“I’m still very confident that I can haul some good points in the future.” said Webber. “Whether it’s enough to be consistently ahead remains to be seen. I’m getting some pretty good results. I’ve had very consistent Sunday afternoons.”

That’s a fact and it marks a bit of a turning point for Webber in his career. Last season he had a reasonable run of points finishes up to the British GP, but this year he has shown the consistency which was missing in previous years, partly due to bad luck with reliability. Webber’s career is one of unfulfilled promise, which is why he needs to take maximum advantage of the problems of McLaren, Renault and Ferrari this year, because he doesn’t know when he may get the chance to win races and get podiums again.

After starting the season behind Vettel he has matched him recently and beaten him in Spain and Turkey thanks to race strategy. Webber started the season recovering from a broken shoulder and a broken leg, so he was a little slow out of the blocks as the team expected him to be, but he’s now right there with Vettel. He lost the initiative to Vettel at Silverstone when he blew qualifying because he got wrong footed by Raikkonen into Stowe corner, after that second place in the race was always going to be the best he could do.

Qualifying is the key, “Saturday is crucial, we know that, in terms of how tight it is between the four of us, and especially in the last few events, ” said Webber.

So true. Red Bull doesn’t want to favour either driver. Although it is clear when you stand in their motorhome or garage, which of the two drivers certain members of the management team want to win, the policy so far is that they are allowed to race. This is fair and it’s what the public wants to see. Webber is in the later stages of his career, Vettel at the beginning, but they must both be allowed to benefit from having a good car, because in F1 you can never be sure you’ll have another good one next year. Just ask Lewis Hamilton.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner confirmed the drivers’ status, “There’s no No 1 driver. Updates are being introduced to the cars equally at every race, and that’s the way it will continue for the rest of the season,” he said.

That said, if it were to turn out that the Red Bull car was superior at the remaining races, getting those 1-2 finishes, then there would have to come a time when the team throws its weight behind one driver. Currently they are having to give one driver the better qualifying strategy ( ie a bit lighter to go for pole) and the other driver the better race strategy. But neither is the optimum combined strategy.

If one of the drivers were to get in range of Button’s points total then that might well change, because this championship is not over yet.

Meanwhile Red Bull has confirmed that the reserve driver it shares with Toro Rosso is changing over. It has been Brendon Hartley up to now, for the second half of the season it will be British F3 champion Jaime Alguersuari, the 19 year old Spanish driver.

The benefit to him is that he gets to learn the F1 environment, listen in to briefings and debriefs.

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24 Comments
  1. And with qualifying being so important now, the spotlight will be cast on the team to see which of their drivers gets the ‘preferential’ strategy (if there is one).

    Interesting to see both Red Bull and Brawn this year have on occasions started their drivers on equal fuel loads, which you’d think is something they’d wish to avoid.

    Is there any information on how much fuel the drivers can save per lap when they go into conservation mode, as when Webber was behind Barrichello at Silverstone? Does it vary much between engine brands?

  2. Tom says:

    Hi James:
    As an Aussie, and a (long suffering) Webber fan it’d be fantastic if this came to pass.

    I have to say though Vettel has looked to have Webber’s measure for pace over the majority of the season. Qualifying is 8-0, if you ignore Vettel’s penalty in Malaysia, and Vettel has also chalked up a couple of wins. As you say, Webber did get the better of Vettel in Spain and Turkey through strategy, and a few cracks seemed to be appearing in Vettel’s armor. I think Silverstone qualifying through the initiative right back to Vettel. So it’s been pretty tit-for-tat so far on that front, as the points would suggest.

    I want to see Webber notch up a win, before talking championships, as he is still yet to do that. Similarly, I don’t think Vettel has covered himself in glory when he hasn’t started from pole. Bahrain, Monaco, Spain spring to mind as examples where he hasn’t been able to get past a slower car, costing him a better result. Webber has managed a couple of memorable overtakes on Button & Alonso, so is probably edging Vettel in the racecraft stakes – which is a major turnaround on past years, when Webber was thought to be a great qualifier, lacking in racecraft.

    It’s mighty close, but I think Vettel might just come out on top between the 2. Maybe that’s my inherent pessimism coming through after years of suffering watching Webber or his car snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  3. Gavin Nottage says:

    What if Vettel keeps winning when the Red Bull is dominant, but has a few DNFs or poor results too. Jenson (or Rubens) wins when the Brawn is better, with other poor results, and Mark gets lots of 2nd place finishes. It’s realistic that he could win the drivers championship without winning a race! Not that I’d want to see that – I do hope he gets an unspoiled weekend to bring home that maiden 10 point haul.

    The championship is exciting this year as there are really 4 potential winners who haven’t stood much of a chance before, and thankfully now two teams that are going to slog it out.

  4. I think both Vettel and Webber’s title aspirations will ultimately be undermined by one another. I’m not the biggest fan of team orders and in the current situation I can understand why Red Bull would opt to allow equal treatment. However, being rational, I think that this will ultimately be Red Bull’s failing.
    The team should have a slight advantage in Germany, Spa and Italy. Realistically if Red Bull want to close the points gap on Button they should have one driver winning those races.

  5. Michael C says:

    Nice to be reading and discussing racing again rather than politics!

    Do we assume that Vettel is the favoured driver you refer to?

    F1 may have become a sport where you are only as good as your last race but Vettel has time on his side where arguably the others don’t (certainly not I suspect you Rubens!)

    Consequently it would be nice to see the old-timers (!) Mark winning and closing up to Jenson – with Rubens also in the mix for the rest of the season – no doubt Bernie can arrange it

  6. Nikko says:

    Webber currently at 33/1 to win the championship Vettel at 11/4.

    Since only a couple of points seperate the RB’s after a few rounds and as it looks like the team are in for a good second half of the year I like those Webber odds.

  7. Ray.C. says:

    A lasting image — Brazil ’04 Webber sits trackside on his helmet after being taken out by his teammate(I think) His last race for Jaguar. He watches the Williams he’ll drive next season, win the race.
    Aus ’05 and the Renault he turned down wins(who knew)?

    “Sometimes Mark is a little bit not listening”– Flavio

    After having seen all the disasters, from mechanical failures to being taken out by others etc, I’d dearly love to see some good luck go Mark’s way.
    So far this season he was rear-ended by an out of control Heikki and baulked twice in quali 3.
    Over the years, he always seems to go for the heavier fuel load, and the ONE time he fuels for pole, (Silverstone) and he’s baulked by Kimi.
    (Just a sidenote):- If drivers are baulked on a final flying lap, maybe the session could be extended to allow a fair lap….or a quali 4 where the top 3 or 4 could have a 1 lap shoot out.
    But I digress.
    I have little doubt Mark will get his first win soon, and the sooner the better. This season needs to tighten up.

  8. Rob says:

    As always with Webber he talks a good race,same result as usual, he will always be the bridesmaid never the bride.

  9. George steps down as Indy boss http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/76631

    James,

    I was born and raised in Indy. I knew from some friends that this was really going to happen despite earlier denials from the IMS.

  10. George says:

    Knowing Mark’s luck he’ll probably come 4th by half a point

  11. Alex M says:

    … and in the same spirit Mark, I fancy a crack at Kate Moss.

    I too have “getting some pretty good results” but am on the prowl all week long for Kate, not just “Sunday afternoons.”

    The Good Lord does love an Optimist.

  12. Colin S says:

    Wouldn’t it be a tragedy for Button if he lost the championship this year by less than the extra points he might have got if the race were not rained off?

  13. Dom Leste says:

    Vettel 3 poles 3 wins i have to see him win from behind at least before he can challenge Button. Button’s passed people to win this year. Jury out…

  14. Boston F1 Fan says:

    “which is why he needs to take maximum advantage of the problems of McLaren, Renault and Ferrari this year, because he doesn’t know when he may get the chance to win races and get podiums again.”

    - Isn’t this why Toyota, Red Bull, and Williams are gunning for the front? They know that they can’t match the might of Mclaren and Ferrari and are hoping to capitalize on their misfortune.

  15. Kenny says:

    I seem to recall a rule, way back in the 20th century, that said a driver had to win at least one race to win the WDC, regardless of how many points he (or she) scored. Is my memory failing me, or was there really such a reg? Is it still on the books?

  16. Antoine says:

    “He lost the initiative to Vettel at Silverstone when he blew qualifying because he got wrong footed by Raikkonen into Stowe corner, after that second place in the race was always going to be the best he could do.”

    Thanks to Max for making overtaking such an easy manoeuvre… :-(

  17. Elena says:

    Hi James:
    I always enjoy your blog, but due to language limitation i don’t write…
    Just one observation:
    This is not right: Alguersuari</strong
    It is
    Alguerasuri
    Cheers ;-)

  18. Bjorn Schultheiss says:

    I can’t wait for Jenson to choke and Red Bull snatching the championship in the last race

  19. JohnBt says:

    Button with 64 points, needs 22 more to bag WDC.
    22 divided by 9 races = 2.44444….lol…. Not difficult for Jense.
    But an unpredictable last race to decide WDC will always be welcomed by fans for sure. The mood for racing is coming back after all the Max and FOTA polemics are subsiding, I HOPE!!!

  20. Chris Johnson says:

    I really want to see Webber win a race this year, but the reality is that Vettel should be a lot further ahead on points than he is; Mark is being regularly beaten on speed. If he could pop out a win in the next race or two, I think that would rattle Vettel a lot.

    I don’t think either will catch Button, but I’ve loved to see it.

    So, which Red Bull management favors Webber and which favors Vettel?

  21. rpaco says:

    It seems the whole of the English speaking (or rather writing) press have got it wrong or all copied it. So we can’t spell the guy lat alone pronounce him properly, some of us still have trouble with Barrichello. (i before c makes it ch but does the h soften it again?) :-)

  22. Al (21prods) says:

    Sorry, but James got it right, it is “Alguersuari”.

    You can see it at his official webpage: http://www.jalguersuari.com

    BTW, I think this guy is really good and we will get used to hearing about it this year maybe or 2010.

  23. Jake Pattison says:

    Well said Tom. Your comments echo my own (Aussie) sentiments.

  24. Nicky D says:

    Epic fail – with 9 more races someone can score 90 points. 64 + 22 = 86 – which is less than that, and does not include the points they’ve already scored.

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