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Webber: Suggestions he backed up Monaco field to help Vettel “absolute rubbish”
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Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  30 May 2012   |  11:31 am GMT  |  75 comments

Monaco GP winner Mark Webber says that suggestions he was playing team tactical games in Sunday’s Grand Prix, backing the pack up to give team mate Sebastian Vettel a chance to get a podium are wide of the mark.

The Aussie’s pace on new soft tyres in the period around laps 31-35, after he and the leading trio had pitted, was slow. And this led to speculation that he was deliberately backing Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa up, to give Vettel, who stayed out another soft tyres to build enough of a lead to jump them at his stop on lap 45.

Vettel gained about 7 seconds through this period and was able to jump Massa and Hamilton, but on lap 38 Webber had begun picking up the pace and so there was no question of Vettel getting a podium.

Problems warming up the new soft tyres were blamed on this dip in pace at a crucial time, but some rival teams and commentators are convinced Webber was doing a job for Vettel.

Webber strenously denies it in his BBC Sport Online Column today,

“(It) is absolute rubbish. You just cannot be that fancy around Monaco, ” Webber writes. “Ultimately, Seb ran out of tyres and he had to pit because the rest of us started to go quicker, but if they’d kept going he would have been pushing for the win.

“If we had been trying anything on, I could have been even cuter. I cleared Seb by quite a lot. If I’d wanted to slide him in among other people, I could have slowed down and it would have been even better for the team. But it just wasn’t part of the plan.

“The problem with trying to do that would be that you’re exposing yourself to even more pressure from the guys behind – Nico and Fernando in this case. And then the boys in the pits might mess up Seb’s stop and it would all be for nothing.

“You always get bitten on the bum when you get fancy. So you just don’t try.”

To get the latest F1 news and reaction to Monaco GP click HERE

For the full Webber column read HERE

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75 Comments
  1. Glennb says:

    There you have it. Mark always tells it how it is. He wasn’t pushing because he couldn’t push. When he could, he did. Simple.

  2. just read all this on the bbc site ?

    Matt

    1. xamria says:

      Sorry I’m all out of gold stars, would you accept a teletubbies sticker?

      1. maybe its just me then , since James has started working for the BBC there seems to be allot more similar articles then there used to be …have been checking BBC and this for years and never really noticed it until this year.

        but i will take the sticker :)

        Matt

      2. Jack says:

        the article is about something he said on the BBC site – so obviously it will also be on the BBC site.

  3. Sankalp Sharma says:

    Here’s how I see it: Horner, Vettel, Webber pre-plan that if Webber does manage to hold his ground at turn one, during the start, they’ll try and pull Vettel as high as they can. So here’s what I think Webber was willing to commit to: ‘Okay I’ll delay the pack only for a certain number of laps. Vettel can make whatever time his tyres allow him to make”. I never got the impression that Webber was willing to give up the race win under circumstance.

  4. Steve Rogers says:

    “You always get bitten on the bum when you get fancy. So you just don’t try.” Long may he blurt :-)

  5. Lindsay says:

    It’s difficult to hold someone up when they’re 2 seconds behind you.

    1. knoxploration says:

      Exactly.

  6. colin grayson says:

    webber was on a one stop strategy to keep track position

    if you want to get the maximum life out of this years tyres you use them gently for the first few laps

    where’s the mystery ?

    1. Cristobal says:

      exactly… or as gently as you can, whenever you can.

  7. Thomas11 says:

    Of course. Red Bull or Vettel have never helped Webber, why would he return the favor?

    Funny how his pit stops amazingly improved with him on pole and Seb out of contention.

    1. Kay says:

      Well it’s rumoured that Webber’s Brazil 2011 win was ‘helped’ by Vettel.

      Though in this case, I honestly believe Webber wouldn’t help Vettel. No point and I believe Webber rather fancies the chance of pipping Vettel to the title, or at least enlarge his own chances and minimise Vettel’s.

      1. brad says:

        would you honestly believe that any racer, let alone mr statistics vettel would EVER give up a race win? vettel would do anything to win a race, including stealing his team mate’s front wing. you think he’ll be ‘sure, christian. i’ll fake a gearbox issue and let mark win’.

  8. Tom in adelaide says:

    So what was that press conference wink all about?

    Regardless, who cares if he did? It’s a team sport! Ferrari would do it. McLaren would try, but they’d probably botch it up somehow…

  9. goferet says:

    Yeah I tend to take Webber at his word for he isn’t the political type, so I totally believe him.

    But his reason for not helping out Sebi is rather suspect for it’s know that there’s a (discreet) rivalry within Red Bull plus Webber is still nursing his grudge against after the Wunderkid embarrassed him last year.

    So helping Sebi get a podium wouldn’t be in his best interests (even though the team would have got more points) for hey look —> they’re now tied on points in the driver standings *surprise*surprise*

    Of course this is unlike the Schumi-Rubens partnership for Rubens couldn’t hold a candle to the Kaiser so had to do all the dirty work of slowing down the pack while the Kaiser disappeared over the horizon.

    OMG!!! It seems we have ourselves an enticing battle happening within the Red Bull team this year. I guess the battle everyone was expecting at Mclaren may infact be happening at the neighbours in the next garage.

    P.s.

    Mark Webber is a chatterbox.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      {mod]
      When Ferrari were dominant, Rubens finished behind MSC on 5 occasions and MSC was second to RB on 4 occasions in 2002.
      In 2004 Rubens finished 7 times behind MSC and beat MSC followed him in 2nd once.

      At no stage in those season were Ferrari realistically pushed by any other rival. Barrichello never held up any other teams.
      Many races, Schumacher and Barrichello would circulate together through to the finish, and when MSC tried to manufacture a dead heat in Indianapolis, RB won the race.

      The only race that I honestly remember that MSC was demonstrably superior to Barrichello was the 2002 Belgian GP.
      Both on soft Bridgestones, they round La Source 1st and 2nd after the start, MSC left Barrichello at a second a lap, and Barrichello left the rest of the grid behind at a second a lap.
      Quite awesome piece of driving.
      I always hated these years because the result was pretty much known before the race started.
      I always wanted Schumacher to win every race he could, not gift presents to Rubens. At least that would have been honest.

      1. goferet says:

        @ hero was Senna

        At no stage in those season were Ferrari realistically pushed by any other rival.
        ————————————————-

        No, I wasn’t talking about those seasons were Ferrari were dominant but rather seasons were they weren’t dominant like 2003 where Schumi won the title by 1 point.

        Yes there were a number of races were Rubens was deliberately put in ahead of traffic or left out a couple of laps inorder to make Schumi’s strategy work.

        Also I believe this happened in 2004 once in a while in those races the team didn’t have a clear advantage.

      2. hero_was_senna says:

        I have just checked wikipedia for the 2003 seasons results.
        Now for the life of me, I can’t see in the results and I can’t remember any race that year that RB did that for Schumi.

        RB won a simply fantastic race in Britain, remember that crazy religious nut who ran down the middle of Hangar Straight in his kilt. I believe he was called Father Horan.
        RB drove brilliantly that day, overtaking Kimi into Bridge from a move that started at Stowe corner.
        I would call that his best ever race.
        He also won the Japanese GP with MSC hitting Sato in the chicane and finally managing to finish in 8th.
        But I also remember the threat of rain that day could have ruined Ferrari’s party due to the Michelin’s working better in damp conditions.

        If you said Irvine held up the drivers at the 1997 Japanese GP whilst MSC raced off, I’d agree.
        The Williams race that day was to cause MSC problems because Villeneuve was racing pending appeal for a yellow flag infringement during qualifying.
        Ferrari worked to get Irvine ahead so as to throw that plan then he let MSC past.
        If you said MSC held up Hakkinen in Malaysia 1999, again I’d agree with that.
        But these two examples I remember off the top of my head, can you please give me examples of what you state?

      3. hero_was_senna says:

        P.S. I forgot to add, your quote,

        “Of course this is unlike the Schumi-Rubens partnership for Rubens couldn’t hold a candle to the Kaiser so had to do all the dirty work of slowing down the pack while the Kaiser disappeared over the horizon.”

        At no point did you say 2000, 2001, 2003 or 2005, you just said the Schumi-Rubens partnership.

    2. dzolve says:

      Priceless, Goforit!

  10. Paul H says:

    I fail to see the issue here. F1 is a team sport, what is the problem if he did deliberately back the field up in an attempt to aid his teammate and improve his team’s points haul from the race? Simple tactics and nothing wrong with that. F1 is about more than simple speed, if you want to see who can go fastest you’re better watching drag racing or time trial events.

  11. MrNed says:

    Well, it certainly looked like a duck and quacked like a duck… but if Webber says it wasn’t a duck then I believe him. Let’s face it, he’s probably the most straight-talking and down-to-earth guy on the grid, so if he says it was just coincidental that the lack of pace helped Vettel, then coincidence it is.

    Dull-as-ditchwater race though, wasn’t it? Roll-on Canada!

    1. Doobs says:

      It would’ve been better to know some intrigue and tactics were going on behind the scenes as the actual racing was rather uninspiring.

  12. Mike J says:

    He is a straight shooter so that knocks the theory (backing up the pack) clean on the head. I really like the way Mark just comes out and tells it as it is. Leaves nothing to wonder about.
    Still not sure how much ‘love’ there is between Seb and Mark however i reckon it will only get better/hotter as the season goes on…Was Seb at the pool party after the race?

  13. Gord says:

    Even if Webber did do it, he certainly wouldn’t admit it to the public.

    1. Kay says:

      Silverstone 2010.

      Webber isn’t one that’d be afraid to speak out, even to the public.

  14. Nigel (USA) says:

    Webber also said Monaco “is not always the most spectacular race to watch”.

    Major understatement…..

    1. xamria says:

      I see you put your location with your user name so I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but making “major understatements” is a typically Australian thing to do when wanting to state the truth but do it without causing TOO much offense. Lets face it… the truth always hurts somebody.

  15. **Paul** says:

    It was pretty obvious Mark wasn’t backing the field up. Rosberg, Alonso, Hamilton and Massa weren’t crawling all over his gearbox at that point. They were maintaining position.

  16. Dufus2 says:

    Mark is a straight talker I feel and his article and reasons for not backing up make sense.
    Nothing to see here.

  17. SH says:

    The conspiracy theorist in me wonders whether the team asked him to ‘save fuel. save lots of fuel’ during that phase of the race, and he did just that until he realised what was going on.

    Webber sounded very subdued when he got on the radio after taking the flag. Sort of ‘yeah, thanks guys’ and not much more.

  18. Michael S says:

    I think Webber is the LAST person on earth that would want to help the teammate who has burried him for 2 titles in a row. Mark seems very competative to me and knows Seb is his biggest competition. Mark had those cars on his bumper most of the second half of the race so i see no conspiracy here at all

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      To be fair, Vettel only led the 2010 WDC after the last race finished. I wouldn’t say he buried him..

      1. Douglas Cloak says:

        Well said. 2010 could of gone either way. If anything Mark deserved to win it more than Seb did, but try telling that to an organisation who has invested so much money in bringing him up through the ranks as a Red Bull junior. Seb is the companys golden boy & for all the funds they have invested in him over the years the company needed a return. The fact that Webber still nearly won it is a credit to the Aussie battler.

      2. David A says:

        “If anything Mark deserved to win it more than Seb did”

        Absolutely not. Vettel had the lion’s share of the misfortune and mechanical issues in 2010, most notably at Bahrain, Australia and Korea. This denied him the solid start to the season his performances had merited, and almost devastated him right at the end, too.

        The fact that Seb still came through to beat Mark with a faultless run of races when it mattered most is a credit to the one with the index finger.

  19. Jason C says:

    Agree, it seemed a bit of an unlikely suggestion that he would do that. Also, it’s not like the guys behind were on his rear wing. Through most of that perios, they were more than 1.5 seconds behind.

    Anyway, it’s nice to see people talking about Webber going to Ferrari now rather than last year when he seemed to be in a Massa-like ditch of performance compared to Vettel.

  20. Mr Squiggle says:

    MW was very conservative on his tyres in the first stint.

    It wasn’t a surprise to see him conservative during the second stint.

    I think he would have driven the same if it was another car in the lead (aiming for net position of P4)

  21. Jodum5 says:

    Mind telling us where these “suggestions” are coming from?

    1. James Allen says:

      Sky, other teams…

      1. Peter C says:

        Oh well, SKY………That’s it then.

      2. James Allen says:

        That was the theme of post race interviews with SV etc

  22. Kay says:

    Webber ain’t one that’d play this kind of tactical game. Nor does Vettel need this kind of help, he’s had enough babysitting for the past 2 years already and it’s time he race like a man.

    1. David A says:

      What are you on about with “babysitting”? The rumours are nonsense, and Vettel doesn’t need this sort of help because he’s perfectly capable of winning races by himself- that’s why he has 22 of them.

  23. KGBVD says:

    Hi James,

    A bit off topic, but I thought I’d bring this to everyone’s attention (not really sure how else to do it):
    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/Hacker+group+Anonymous+vows+attack+Montreal+Grand+Prix/6697628/story.html

    Ppl worried about Bahrain, but Montreal might actual be a but more of an issue when push comes to shove.

    1. Justin Bieber says:

      The GP will be fine, the student are negotiating with the government right now. It seems that the GP and all the summer festivals approaching has softened the government stance.

      As for Anonymous, they are threatening to hack the GP website. Even if they do, it will a minor inconvenience at worst.

      Can’t wait for the race!

      1. KGBVD says:

        The students have been negotiating with the govt for months now. But the problem isn’t the fees anymore, it’s Bill 78. I don’t think they are going away any time soon.

        The vast majority of fans get to the race on the metro, and the protesters have already shown us how easy it is to close the subways for hours with a few tiny smoke bombs.

        The Anonymous hack is inconveniencing to say the least, unless you bought your tickets online and now how your credit care info dumped on the web. Anyone buy their tickets any other way?

  24. fred.e says:

    This is just so Mark Webber: “You always get bitten on the bum when you get fancy.”

    Love him or not, here is someone that still says it as it is. I really hope he stays in F1 for many years but someone of his calibre will have a future in F1 and other levels of motorsport for many years to come..!

  25. Elie says:

    What a load of Bull ! Mark even suggested he did during the post race press conference .Why is he back tracking on that now.

    1. brukay says:

      Elie Your hearing must be defective go back and have another listen he definately said it was not in the plan who cares anyway?

    2. Wild Man says:

      He said that “it wasn’t part of the plan” & never mentioned about purposely holding up the pack. Not sure what you are refering to???

    3. Lindsay says:

      He did?

    4. Kay says:

      “We were all trying to get temperature and at the start of the stint I had very, very low front grip and I had to manage that and move the brake balance around and things like that trying to get everything organised, and [I was] managing Nico and everyone else. But also, Seb’s going ‘Hmmm, this is interesting’, so I didn’t want him to get the magic 21 seconds, to make sure he couldn’t do the stop and get the victory – that wasn’t part of the plan. ”

      http://www.formula1.com/news/headlines/2012/5/13401.html

      When did Mark suggest he helped Vettel? There is nothing he backtracked.

      1. Elie says:

        Listen to the whole interview -not just snippets then you will understand..At the end when Seb was making ground Mark had to put the foot down or risk his position. I have absolutely no problem with his action. But Mark did get cute with his comments no two ways about it!.. I mean which team wouldn’t do what RBR did if they could. But there’s only one straight talker in F1-that’s Kim Raikkonen that’s for sure.!

  26. SP says:

    They obviously werent playing games. The gaps were so tight behind Mark and anything couldve happened to him when Seb eventuallly pitted, i.e. stuck behind backmarkers, an incident… which would’ve lead to gifting the win to Seb. So yeah, too risky to play and I’m glad Mark spoke up. Puts an end to the ‘conspiracies’ :)

  27. JC says:

    Also a lot of fans are repulsed by such overt manipulation of race results (unless it is towards the end season and for the championship). These fans want to believe they are seeing a fair contest between all drivers and not a team ‘unfairly’ manipulating the result.

  28. tim clarke says:

    i cannot imagine a sportsman in the world

    who’s forth-rightness i’d weigh over Marks!

    stand-up chap in every way.

  29. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    Yes he was holding them, but just for a few laps because he wanted to win, I think he explained he watch Nico, then he was informed about Vettel’s gap, and then he speed up and watch Nico again.

    I think the rules say something about it, James is it ilegal to hold other drivers?

    I guess is it ilegal to crash to help your team (Renault “crashgate”).

  30. Rich C says:

    “Mark, Seb is slower than you. Do you understand?”

    Sure.

  31. Rob Newman says:

    I believe Webber and this is why I say he is a selfish person and not a team player. But then I guess you need to be selfish in this sport.

    Vettel has beaten Webber three consecutive years without any help and it will happen again this year. Webber should know that if it wasn’t for Vettel’s generosity, Webber wouldn’t have won a race in 2011!

    1. Dufus says:

      Yeh, cause Vettels a team player right !

    2. Nathan says:

      You honestly think that Vettel, the man who always asks what is the fastest lap near the end of the race so he can add to his stats would give away a win? I think not!

    3. Craig says:

      Without any help? Wow that’s rich.

  32. TimB says:

    Hmm. Don’t think Webber would deny it that directly if it was true (and can’t see a reason for the team to deny it, either).

    However, that radio radio message from his engineer telling him the gap to Vettel was good and Mark could speed up again could be read either way – either that Vettel wasn’t a threat, or that Vettel now had the gap he needed on Hamilton.

  33. Wild Man says:

    I am still waiting for him to mention the “rough end of the pineapple”.

  34. Scott says:

    Benefit of the doubt to Red Bull there, but any other front-running team would’ve done what is suggested no question.
    I think we can blame the tyre situation this year. I suggest we go back to last years tyres. There were less complaints from both drivers and fans, and remember last years championsip was only boring because Vettel ran away with it due to getting the most from the blown diffuser. That’s gone now and look…we have 6 different winners from 6 races.
    So for me, last years tyres and no blown-diffusers.

  35. KL says:

    I wouldn’t be. When the commentators first mentioned this as a possibility, I was mentally applauding RBR for being brave and audacious to try something like this.

    Like it or not, the teams are paid by F1 based on their finishing position in the Constructor’s World Championship.

    F1 is a team game (for me anyway, outside of the so-easy-for-the-”media-to-hype Driver’s World Championship) and something like this is part of the sport.

    It does make me wonder though – the fans that don’t like teamwork/teamplay, and are vociferous in their desire to see “fair racing” – do they have the same aversion to the team game that is very evident in professional cycling, a la the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia?

  36. bmg says:

    Gee I must have imagined the radio comment; ok you can speed up now.

    1. Nathan says:

      You don’t think it could have been you have saved enough fuel or your tyres are up to temp you can speed up. If they really wanted to they could have come 1 – 2. Team orders are allowed do they have no reason to hide it. Also why would Webber give Vettel points? He is one of his main rivals for the championship.

  37. Andrew Kirk says:

    What’s your view James? can’t imagine Webber would be interested in helping Vettel that much given the fact Vettel could have backed the pack up a few times last year to help Webber’s races.

    BTW James off topic was wondering if next time you see him you can ask Barrichello to write a book based on his time at Ferrari? Given the history, politics, team orders anc characters involved would make a good read plus I feel that we the viewers only ever got snapshots (Austria 2002) in what went on. I imagine there a few more stories there. So maybe just suggest it to him :P

    1. James Allen says:

      1. It’s an interesting one. Some of the engineers from other teams say it’s not in doubt that’s what was happening. Look at Rosberg’s 1m 19s lap on new softs, warm up was not that big an issue. But what’s odd is where it stopped and the Webber train started closing the gap again. If it was deliberate, then why do that?

      2. When I wrote the Edge of Greatness on Schumacher, Rubens told me a lot but said that there were some things he would save for his own book. He then said to me last summer that he was writing a book while travelling to and from races. That’s the last I heard of it

      1. Andrew Kirk says:

        1. It could be that Mark was worried about the gap being just a little too big and wanted to make sure that he was the one upfront. Still do not really believe Mark would do such a thing.

        2. Good to hear hopefully he writes something. Rubens always seemed to have a big heart and at times wore it on his sleeve (his post race interview at Germany 2009). Plus I think for sure there are alot of stories that would shed an interesting light on not just Schumacher but in the inner workings of Championship winning team and how ruthless it can be but would argue has to be. I still remember your stunned reaction to the switch at Austria 2002, on a scale of 1 to 10 James how amazed were you that they did that?

  38. Brett Williams says:

    James, I remember something you wrote previously that during the 2010 season as RBR were developing the exhaust-blown diffuser, a change was made that seemed to benefit Vettel as the season progressed. From what I recall it had something to do with automating the throttle-delivery when the car would not normally be under power (ie mid-corner). Accordingly it was suggested that the difference between the two drivers was that Mark had better raw control of the throttle and hence better control of the blown diffuser in its early stages however when it was improved to allow the car to control that automatically, Sebastian was able to make the most of his better raw pace.

    Now that the blown diffuser is banned in 2012 do you think this has been a big factor in leveling the playing field for the two RBR drivers, when compared to the 2011 season?

  39. PeteM says:

    If there is one persons comments that you would believe in the F1 Paddock that would be MW. No driver has the front Mark clearly does.
    If he is lying his body language is that obvious we wouldn’t need commentary to work out for ourselves what’s going on and he blatantly shows his feelings.
    The others drivers well they are game players and to me that makes them kind of incomplete people. Kimi would be closest to marks personality in regards to telling it how it is.

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