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.
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.