Webber on why he can rediscover his 2010 form, RBR’s challenge and his take on Lewis
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 Mar 2012   |  8:28 am GMT  |  75 comments

Mark Webber is in many people’s eyes facing a pivotal year in his career in 2012 but the man himself says he prepares to enter his 11th Formula 1 season “the best I’ve felt for a while” and with the aim of showing people he can rediscover the form that took him so close to the title two years ago.

With Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel having very much not looked back since emerging on top against the odds in the three-way Abu Dhabi final race shootout of 2010, Webber, who led the now two-time champion German for much of that season, has again somewhat slipped back into the role of forgotten man among the drivers who are likely to have a car at their disposal to challenge for championship honours.

Webber for one hasn’t forgotten his performances in that 2010 season though and says he prepares to fly out to his home race in Australia in just under a fortnight aiming “to do a lot more winning” over the next seven months.

In an exclusive interview with me for BBC Radio 5 live, the Australian was frank about the problems that held him back at the start of last year in particular and laid much of the blame at his own door.

“I had a tough start to the year in terms of pace and also a few niggles here and there with reliability which put me on the back foot in terms of quali and races and things like that,” he explained. “But ultimately most of it was at my feet in not performing well enough, but from the middle part of the year certainly I picked that up and I had some stronger races and it was enough to finish the year with some good results and the win in Brazil was an added bonus if you like.

“So looking forward to [the new season], and there’s no reason whatsoever we can’t find that 2010 form again.”

Indeed after a winter to refocus, Webber admits he is feeling as prepared as he has for some time – and is eyeing a maiden home victory: “It’s the best I’ve felt for a while going into the first race let’s say, in terms of preparation and how we’re going to tackle that first event. So looking forward to that.

“Along with Monza, they’re the two ones I would desperately like to win. I’ve won some other ‘classics’ but it would be great clearly to win your home race; it would blow the roof off the place.”

Although he stood on the podium on 10 occasions last year – as many times as in 2010 – he claimed just one victory to Vettel’s 11, and that was in rather fortuitous circumstances when the sister Red Bull’s gearbox developed problems at the season finale in Brazil.

Webber believes getting the “subtleties” of a race weekend right is the key to turning second and third places into wins this year, knowing that momentum will be key to a stronger campaign.

With the indications from pre-season showing that Red Bull continue to hold an edge going to Melbourne Webber should on paper have the opportunity for another crack at F1’s biggest prize – although the Australian acknowledges that one of the appealing factors to many this season is probably the possibility that RBR’s winning run could be ended.

“We have some tough rivals and I think everybody is excited by the fact that Red Bull might get beaten – that’s what people probably would like,” he said.

“We’re a straight up-and-down unit: Adrian [Newey]’s there working incredibly hard, Christian [Horner] obviously running all the troops. Even if when you have an Adrian Newey, the seasons that we’ve had there are so many ways you can find yourself in a position to still screw so many opportunities up – and we haven’t done that. That’s what we’re good at and what we have to keep doing.”

Webber also had some interesting views on one of the men most likely to challenge Red Bull this year, Lewis Hamilton, in wake of the Briton’s tumultuous 2011 – suggesting those kind of experiences weren’t unusual for a sportsman, particularly one with the McLaren man’s profile, and just had to be managed correctly.

Asked if he expected a reaction from Hamilton this year, Webber replied: “I don’t think that we’ll see too much of a change. There’s a lot of positives that Lewis did last year. He is still clearly gifted behind the wheel, we know that. Obviously some of his judgements here and there; he was involved in more incidents than he would have liked to have been involved in clearly, especially with Felipe – they were a magnet for each other.

“…it’s normal for a sportsman and a sportswoman in their career they’re going to go through some head winds in his career. Particularly someone like him who’s had so much success so early, and he’s black and he’s got interest and he’s got a girlfriend of profile – so this is of interest to a lot of people.

“It needs managing and, again, it’s LH looking in the mirror and working out what is best for him. Let’s hope he’s strong but not too strong – as a competitor you hope that he can realise his potential, but clearly we still want to beat him.”

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1
pear-shaped pete

It might seem pedantic/semantic but 2012 is Webber’s best chance of winning. (Previous years are over he has no chance in them).

cheers

pear-shaped pete

2

Just in response to all the comments suggesting Mark lost 2010 because of his shoulder or his drop in form after that.

The ONLY reason he didn’t win the WDC was because he dropped it in Korea.

All he has to do to win this year is get more poles and lead the first lap.

p.s. (off topic),

James,

I love the JAF1 tweets page, but it could use updating…out with the old, in with the new etc.

3

What sort of updating? Thanks

4

The links are still showing last seasons drivers and teams. ie: Trulli,Barrichello,old STR drivers and no sign of Caterham etc.

5

Mark Webber is a top bloke same with Jenson Button, probably the two I would share a beer with of the the whole pack. But if you want to be realistic in terms of sheer speed they cannot match their team mates. Mark will be even closer to Sebastian this year with less downforce and less radical tyres. But Lewis will pull away from Jenson this year, and I reckon he will win the championship in the MP4-27..No driver likes someone thats quicker than them…and thats why noone likes Lewis.

6

Great interview with my favourite driver in the field. I like Mark, he is a racer, always provides interesting points and comments. Would have loved him to take the title in 2010 but as many people have stated he lost his form in the closing stages of the title race (really hope if he writes a book he describes in detail what went on in the last year of that year! all he did was sit behind Alonso!)

Red Bull is probaly more Pro Vettel than Pro Webber but noone is forcing Mark to sign up for them and he is clearly well aware of this fact. I think the start of the year is crucial for him as if Vettel gets on roll it will be difficult for Mark to get back on terms with him. I’m going to see Australian Grand Prix at the track so will be rooting for him!

7

Remember guys Mark Webber is driving a car that is not designed for him, he is 6 inches taller and 12kg heavier than Sebastian. Can anyone here seriously say that this is not a hinderance in regards to balance, traction, stability and speed of the car. The freedom of being able to move 12kg more ballast around your car than your team mate to any place you like. In a sport of grams and millimetres this is a great help to develop a more balanced car with better traction for the race. Slow track and slow corners with traction a factor, lets move our ballast to the back of the car “how much can you move Mark ? – oh thats right 12 less than me”. Anybody that thinks this wont help is only watching cars go around and does not understand F1.

It is publicised, and he will tell you himself the tyre’s took their toll last year, it has been also said that his driving style did not lend as well to the blown diffuser as Sebs. Remember 2010 without the diffuser 5 or 6 times during qualifying they were separated by 0.07sec everything was line ball even the races.

People that know say “he is an exceptionally fast driver” unfortunately in this upper echelon or motor sport when most of the drivers look like jockeys he is already handicapped before he gets in the car. DC said at the end of the commentary at the Brazilian GP about why he hasn’t won more this year and the Drivers Championship he said “he went o-so close to winning the DC in 2010…. the tyres and i suspect some engineering issues are the reason”,and he is someone that understands. Its not always what it looks like from the outside. And his experience in developing the car would be essential for both of them.

But all we care about is the racing, that its close and exciting and with the removal of the blown diffuser it will be closer than ever (all teams). I hope Mark has a great season this year and prove the nay sayers wrong. Go M Webber

8

Mark for the win AND kick that kiddy Vettel’s backside! That kid needs some lessons from Turkey 2010.

9

Mark needs lessons from hitting Hamilton twice in Australia 2010 then.

10

Hamilton needs some lessons for hitting Webber in 2010 at Singapore & running Webber off the road a year or 2 before that at Monza then 🙂

11

Will any of those “subtleties” include NOT losing half a dozen places on every start?

12

Darn, Webber should take up a position as a commentator when he retires for not only does he love to talk but he’s a straight shooter too which are all great qualities for a commentator, sad he doesn’t want anything to do with F1 when that day comes.

Now the fact Webber is talking up his changes in 2012 tells me that the modern day F1 driver doesn’t want to retire —> Totally understandable!

But Webber forgets that real F1 fans have long memories & we distinctively remember Webber say last year that 2010 was his last chance to win a WDC but I agree with him that he will recapture his 2010 form for not only did the Pirellis get more durable from Spa 2011, but Vettel’s other ace card, the blowing of gases has also been banned —> Thank God.

So yes, 2010 will see the old Webber back & I predict he will score more points & wins than the Wunderkid this year because Sebi won too many races last year that he has no hope of re-winning, I tell you.

Now Webber can forget winning that bogey track that is in Melbourne right now for lets not forget, he has never finished higher than 5th on that track.

As for Red Bull not screwing up as a unit, well when you’re running in free air up front, the chances of botching up pit stops etc greatly reduces unlike when you’re in the thick of it like Webber was.

Now, concerning Hammy hahahahahahaha, I see drivers have already begun coming to the defense of Lewis & showering him with hymns of praise this early, myself am more keen to see those former drivers & Tv pundits that have been throwing Hammy under the bus all season long say nice things about our Lewis (through clenched teeth no doubt) if he were to win 2012 and that’s why I pray day & night our hero brings the bacon home this year.

P.s.

Yes, yes, Webber you got that right, the thing we want to see most this year is those Bulls get de horned —> No fun getting poked in the eye by THE FINGER every other week, I tell ya!

*Fun Fact*

Webber lost the 2010 title because he picked up an injury (I think shoulder) towards the end of the season but more importantly the team wanted the favoured son to win i.e. Didn’t ask Sebi to move over in Brazil & Japan even though Webber was ahead in the standings

13

Webber said 2010 was the BEST chance he had of winning the title.

14

‘Didn’t ask Sebi to move over in Brazil & Japan’

Wise move, they would have lost the title otherwise.

15

“Webber lost the 2010 title because he picked up an injury (I think shoulder) towards the end of the season but more importantly the team wanted the favoured son to win i.e. Didn’t ask Sebi to move over in Brazil & Japan even though Webber was ahead in the standings”

That’s because despite Vettel losing far more points to mechanical issues than Webber did, Vettel was still only ever a handful of points away from Webber. And it turns out that had they asked Vettel to move over in Brazil, Alonso would have been champion.

16
Tornillo Amarillo

Mark said LH incidents won’t change, wow!, but as long as the McLaren is clearly ahead of Massa’s car maybe that can prove Mark’s words wrong.

Normally LH don’t crash with other WDC like Schumacher, Vettel and people on the top (save with teammate Button in Canada 2011), but with Massa, Maldonado, Kobayashi.

17

However even in 2011 he had a car good enough to be clearly ahead of Massa, Maldonado and Kobayashi, considering how poorly Massa did.

18

Mark’s comments are always enjoyable and insightful. But like last season, they just don’t seem to pass on the impression of a driver who knows he’s got a title winning car. Which he very probably still has. So I just find this really odd. He hasn’t got the personality of a number two driver, which is Massa’sposition now, and his performance in 2010 was that of a title challenger until the last few races. Maybe the pressure got to him then. Fair enough. But it did to Hamilton too in 2008 and he came back to win a year later (just, admittedly). Webber’s mindset seems fine. So why does the chance of him beating Vettel (and the McLarens) just seem so remote now? Am I picking up the wrong impression? I sincerely hope so – for me the big disappointment last year, aside from Hamilton and the lack of punch from Mercedes and the Ferraris cars, was Mark Webber disappearing from contention from the start and allowing Seb Vettel a completely free run.

19

Mark’s always struck me as being more of a pragmatist than most other drivers. He know’s that it takes more than a lot of skill and a good car to win the title and isnt afraid to say so.

20
APAAPSPASPAAASA

“…it’s normal for a sportsman and a sportswoman in their career they’re going to go through some head winds in his career. Particularly someone like him who’s had so much success so early, and he’s black and he’s got interest and he’s got a girlfriend of profile – so this is of interest to a lot of people.”

True, but also hilariously un-PC.

@JAMES ALLEN.

Bahrain?

Last year Webber was the first out of the blocks telling the world that F1 shouldn’t go to Bahrain. How has this not come up? Is it a teams letting Bernie decide and telling drivers to shut it or what does Webber think?

21

Being an F1 WDC and having a ‘great’ personality are two different things. Mark is a good bloke, but is that going to defeat Seb?

Senna was despised by a lot of people for being very arrogant, but his talent was evident for all to see. The same people that hated his guts back then suddenly like him now. Something similar is happening with Hamilton – he’s either adored, or hated. Never seen so much rubbish written about someone’s personal life.

I for one respect talent first, if the driver has a decent personality to go with it then that’s an added bonus.

Racing is all that really matters.

22

Personal message to Mark Webber:

! ! ! Don’t let the kid run away with it ! ! !

23
Grayzee (Australia)

“Particularly someone like him who’s had so much success so early, and he’s black and he’s got interest and he’s got a girlfriend of profile – so this is of interest to a lot of people”

LOL! That’s our boy!

Tell ’em like it is, Mark.

I think he would make a great driver manager when he retires. Perhaps he could take young Ricciardo under his wing…..keep him away from all the BS that surrounds guys like Hamilton.

But win the WDC first!

24
godzilla_rising

Unfortunately for all of us, I think Mark has said that if and when he retires, he wants nothing to do with all the “politics” behind the scenes and just wants to walk away completely. I, along with every body else by the look of things, think that this is a crying shame.

Like everybody, I am hoping that he does have a stellar year. If its a sunset year for him, I am hoping that his influence on Daniel Ricciardo has rubbed off, and that Daniel can step up into those mighty big shoes.

That being said, I hope Mark stays around for a bit longer yet!!!!

25

I think he would be good for a young driver to help them keep there feet on the ground.But a lot of sportsman say they will walk away but once they do they miss the day to day life and being part of something.

26

MARK HAS UNFINISHED BUSINESS AT LE MANS. HE WILL DRIVE ELSEWHERE NOT BE INVOLVED IN ALL THE RUBBISH HE HATES SO MUCH.

27

As a person, one cannot go past this guy as one of the best and most interesting to listen to in any sort of modern day sport. He is hard and fair. ‘Straight shooting’ and has the experience to back it up. RB management would not have kept him so long if he wasn’t an integral player. Sure he has his ups and downs and some gripes, but so do they all. But few speak openly. Newey has big respect for him.

His 2011 season started poorly with tech issues and his coming to grips with the tyres played a big role and he never caught up. Webbers time may have past him in 2010 and even if he has improved, so has Vettel. That’s the problem

It will be interesting to see how much the change in tyres and OTBD affect each others performance. I think the changes in these two issues in particular may play into Webbers hands. (IMO)

His comments on Hamilton were of interest, “I don’t think that we’ll see too much of a change”. I hope for Lewis and F1 sake that 2012 is a change from last year.

See you in Melbourne!!!

28

Mark is a class act. I was hoping he could have won in 2010, but his form dipped towards the end of the season. I think he is a definite challenger, as long as:

1. Consistently good starts off the line

2. Red Bull give him equal support as Seb

Point 1 is in his hands. As for point 2…

29

Point 2 is for conspiracy theorists. RBR actually disadvantaged Vettel in at least 3 races in 2011 in strategy to help Webber.

On top of that they pretended Vettel had a gearbox issue in Brazil to give Webber the win and Vettel even played along.

30

i would say its a FACT! that the people behind red bull would want vettel to win if it came down to a 2 horse race.But i hope the people that run the F1 team would be fair until its only 1 man that can win.

31

“On top of that they pretended Vettel had a gearbox issue in Brazil to give Webber the win and Vettel even played along.”

Now who’s a conspiracy theorist?

32

Oh dear welps!

Unless the gearbox was having trouble selecting gears (it wasn’t) then even if its overheating for whatever reason its not going to slow the car down, its just going to make it more likely to destroy the gearbox if it is continually driven at max speed..

Pot, Kettle, Black, in regards to the conspiracy theories maybe?

33

The other option would be that Vettel is so amazing that with a broken gearbox he was as fast as Webber until the team ordered him to slow down multiple times.

Some amazing RBR gearbox that needs no oil they have, eh?

34

I always admire Mark’s no BS approach, I hope he has a good season and gives the finger a run for his money this year!

35

Webber proving that not only has he got very wise head on his shoulders, but he’d be a better driver manager than most managers out there.

Small wonder that he is so well liked.

36

As for me, I don’t think Mark could challenge Vettel this year, his time was gone at 2010.

He had his WDC chance like Massa had before.

Now he could be stronger than in 2011 but not enough to claim more than 1 victory if Vettel+Button+Hamilton have some unlucky issues.

Hope, I am wrong but it’s my feeling right now.

37

people were also writing Button off as a has-been until the Brawn showed its colours. I think Webber still has the potential if things go right for him.

38

Aussie Aussie Aussie! OI OI OI!!!

It’s clear he’s one of the faster drivers out there on the track and with less downforce on the rear tyres this year and the fact that the Pirelli’s are lasting longer too, he should be able to stay out for longer stints meaning that we’ll hopefully see more races come down to driver skill. And we know he’s got plenty of that.

Webber genuinely deserves a WDC and as long as he’s driving a RBR machine and the team backs him as much as Vettel from the start, we should be in for a good season.

Let’s just hope he figures out how to get the RB8 off the line competitively for once.

GO WEBBAAAAA…

39

As well as the tyres which didn’t suit him last year, I always get the impression that Mark dislikes a lot of the technology and would prefer a very pure car to drive, whereas Vettel slots into the idea of gadgets and tools a lot better.

It’d be interesting to see if the lack of the blown diffuser which Mark never seemed to get on with in terms of mechanical cornering skill makes a difference this year.

Webber strikes me as a driver who would have suited F1 in the late 70s/early 80s more than today. It’ll be great if he can challenge Vettel this year. Even if Red Bull run away with it again, at least we might have a good team-mate war to keep things lively.

40

EXACTLY! VETTEL IS VERY SIMILAR TO SCHUMACHER IN THAT HE WORKS WITH THE TECHNOLOGY SO WELL. SCHUEY PROBABLY WOULDN’T HAVE DONE SO WELL WITHOUT ALL THE DRIVER AIDS HE HAD AT HIS DISPOSAL IN HIS ERA. I’M NOT SAYING THAT WAS WRONG,JUST THAT HE WAS BEST AT GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THOSE SYSTEMS AT THAT TIME. THIS YEAR WILL SHOW MUCH MORE WHICH ARE THE BEST NATURAL FEEL,MECHANICAL GRIP STYLE DRIVER,MUCH LIKE STEWART AND COMPANY IN THE DAYS WHEN WHEN SIR FRANK WALKED.

41

Yes very true, but please STOP SHOUTING!!! 🙂

42

I don’t think he mastered the off throttle exhaust blowing on the RBR as well as Vettel, which cost him a bit in quali.

43

Best comment ever in regards to Webber v Vettel

44
Grayzee (Australia)

+1

45

I hope Mark will do much better this year than last year from the word go. If not I do not see him in a Red Bull next year.

46

And I hope RBR don’t fiddle the launch control this season so Mark can get some good starts!

PK.

47

Another conspiracy theory

48

Mark knows and has admitted on several occasions that starts have been his weakness that he needed to sort out. So it is pretty poor for conspiracy theorists to keep finding excuses for him when the man himself knows that it is his problem. Even on numerous times when Webber hasn’t gone in to anti-stall the same thing happens- Vettel’s race-pace was superior to that of Webber’s.

49

RBR didn’t fiddle with anything. It’s up to Webber to get good starts, not lose places off the grid.

50

Jay, I’m prety sure Mark knows how to start a race after all these years! If he had a clutch pedal/leaver mechanically connected to the gearbox and an accelerator pedal mechanically connected to the engine, (without all the electronicly controled/programable fly-by-wire/radio controled gismos) I’m sure he’d be as good as the next man! I find it strange that of all the cars on the grid it was his that often went into “anti-stall” mode all by itself which conveniantly caused his car to create some disruption to cars behind Wettle thereby alowing him to open a gap on the first lap so that no cars could be within one second of him by the time they got to the drs zone.

PK.

51

Nice article. good to see that Mark is his usual straight talking self.

I for one would love to see him win the whole thing. Would be great for him, the sport in Australia and for many like me who are long suffering webber fans.

Fingers crossed for another season like 2010, closely fought and fair.

P.S if Webber cant do it then Button for champ. The two of them are the least egotistical of the lot.

52

Mark and Jenson, to me, are the 2 most appealingand forthright guys in F1. There are other drivers that I admier tremendously for there skills, but these 2 are my favorites for seeming likew human being rather than celebrities. just my impression though.

53

Jenson is also a great commentator on F1. I recall he sat in the box a few years back when he was out for some reason. His insights were incredible and he added an extra dimension to the coverage.

54

He was benched (along with his teamate, Takuma Sato) serving a two race ban because BAR Honda used illegal fuel cells in their cars during the San Marino GP at Imola.

55

I share your opinion. I also think Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo are in the same ballpark.

56

I would add Kubiza to this group as well.

57
APAAPSPASPAAASA

He doesn’t say much though while Dan, Webber, Hulk and to a certain extent Jenson all say what they think… e.g. Webber on Bahrain. Kubica I haven’t heard talk about things because regardless.

Also Kubica isn’t in F1 anymore. Fact is fact, while many want him to be, he hasn’t driven/raced since 2010, with another season off this year he will have been out for as long as Raikkonen except Kimi has done WRC, NASCAR, snowmobiling etc…

58
APAAPSPASPAAASA

Think so too.

All 4 seem very straight forward honest guys. I think Webber probably slgihtly more than the other 3 but only just.

Webber puts it straight, if he thinks things aren’t working out he goes out and says that he needs to improve a bit and where the car is needing improvement too inc pit stops.

F1 needs more guys like them in F1 and I’m glad young guys like Dan and NicoHulk and similiar, it’s so refreshing compared to the egos and ‘pushy’ personalities of the others who I shall not name in the name of not starting a flame war.

59

Great call on Hulkenberg. He doesn’t p**s about, straight to the point. Hugely likeable

60

Good luck Mark, have always enjoyed your straight up

candidness, he’s not joking, it would blow the roof off the

place if he won @albert park. I’ll be there cheering. Bernie just might get his night GP if he does.

61

It totally would blow the roof off! I was at the race in 2002 when he came home fifth in the Minardi. After the race we celebrated long and hard on the grid outside the Minardi garage. Bring it on Mark for 2012.

62

I really hope mark has a good year.I think he’s a solid driver and can see him winning in Australia, with a good start, who knows. Iv been following pre-season closely and although nobody really shows their hand,i believe Mclaren have a good car, capable of winning from the off. I think Mercedes will be contenders and certainly ahead of Ferrari who seem to be struggling.All in all i recon its going to be much closer than last year and cant wait to see what happens to the Button-Hamilton relationship should they both have a car capable of winning the championship.

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