Webber wants investigation into start issues
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Jul 2013   |  3:46 pm GMT  |  139 comments

Red Bull’s Mark Webber says the team need to launch an investigation into why he struggled to get away cleanly at the start of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

The Australian, who is leaving the sport at the end of the season, has had good form at Silverstone, winning in 2010 and 2012. But his hopes of a third win in four years were hit when he bogged down at the start – something which has happened to him on numerous occasions over the last few years.

As he fell back down the field, he had contact with Lotus’ Romain Grosjean at the first corner, which broke part of his front wing and compromised his first stint. The 36-year-old managed to recover to finish second, just 0.7 seconds behind Rosberg.

“I didn’t have a clue what happened off the line,” said Webber. “We’ve had two or three good starts in the last few races and then the lights went out and we were back to our normal form. We need to have a look at why those pop up from time to time.

“Then I had Grosjean take my front wing out at the first corner. The boys did a fantastic job to replace the wing at the first stop and then my race could start from there.”

Last month, JA on F1 technical adviser Mark Gillan talked about making a clean start: “When the driver is ready to make the start, he releases one of his two clutch paddles on the steering wheel, holds the engine at 13,000rpm or the exact level he is instructed by the control engineer and then when the lights go out he releases the second paddle.

“The aim is to match the torque demands and not have too much wheelspin, and conversely not bog the engine down either, to have the perfect getaway.

“Getting the driver used to doing that under pressure in a repeatable way is very difficult, as we see from the inconsistency of starts of many F1 drivers. Ferrari has the control systems optimised and the drivers are able to perform consistently.”

While Webber recovered to finish second, his team-mate and championship leader Sebastian Vettel had a more disappointing outcome.

The German inherited the lead when Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton suffered a tyre failure before a gearbox issue with 11 laps to go saw him retire for the first time this season.

“We just lost the race by a couple of laps but there’s nothing I could have done better,” said Vettel. “So it’s always frustrating but I’m not blaming the guys or the team; these things always happen, you never want them to happen but fortunately we’ve got the next race coming up next week so we can try and do it again.”

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James, where did you get the following quote from: “We’ve had two or three good starts in the last few races and then the lights went out and we were back to our normal form.”

Most other transcripts if read make it this: “…and then the lights went out and we’re back to our normal tactics…”

The words “form” and “tactics” have vastly different connotations. The FIA website uses the word “tactics”.


Being a Webber fan I’d love to believe Marks bad starts were part of a RB conspiracy against him, but that is not the case. Sebastian, is (and I hate to say it) a more complete driver than Mark. Plus Seb is a great qualifier and thats the reason why he wins so many races. P1 offers drivers a HUGE advantage. Hamilton and Alonso are the two best racers on the track, Seb is a close third with Nico not far behind. Marks an aussie battler, what he lacks in pure talent he makes up for in determination and a never say die attitude. He has done well in F1, its made him a millionaire and he has loads of fans that respect and admire him, as I do. Seb is the better driver and thats OK, there is always going to be a better driver. The aussie to watch now is Ricciardo, I predict that he will take over Marks seat and do just as well, if not better than Seb in 2014.


+1 for the honesty James and I hope you end up being right about Ricciardo – I’m gunning for him too 🙂


If you test for a fault by swapping parts about, then re-testing to see where the fault has gone, the fault ALWAYS follows the bad component.

The bad starts have never affected Vettel.



Perhaps you can run an article with Webber’s pole position and then his start performance dating back to his Williams years. Also, it would be interesting to show where Vettel qualified in each of those races.

I may start some digging…


Perhaps he should put some tin foil in his helmet and over the steering wheel!


It’s clear that Red Bull favour Vettle and in the past have even taken a new front wing off Webber’s car to put on Vettle”s, in public view. Now this year, they even let Vettle overtake Webber, by tweaking pit strategy , allowing Vettle to win the race. So , is it a fair question or not to ask about the starts? RB don’t care if Webber wins races, but they need a way to keep him away from Vettle. Do you really think he is leaving F1 just for the tyres ?



Just had an idea why don’t you do Marks autobiography. None of the boring years just the bits with Seb. Throw in a bit of Rubens vs Schumacher. It would sell like hot cakes


No time!

He’d get Tom Clarkson to do that anyway.


Come on Gary Anderson. James is not going to do the research and answer the questions.? Someone please explain why Webber’s starts are poor when he is in a position to threaten the Golden Boy.!!



Mark was responsible for the 3 WCC Red Bull bagged and yet he gets treated in this manner.

Need I mention the name of that old man? Nah.

‘Not bad for a number two eh’.

Always liked him and respected Mark for his frankness, will miss him next year. A very good racer too. Would have been memorable if he won his 3rd Silverstone, IF only there was one more lap it was his.


Here’s some stats I found, year to year – each number represents how many races Webber either gained, lost, or held a position during the first lap of a race. Note the definite increase in races where he loses a place on the first lap in 2010/2011 particularly.


6 gained

8 lost

6 held



2 gained

11 lost

6 held



3 gained

9 lost

7 held



4 gained

3 lost

9 held



5 gained

8 lost

4 held



7 gained

4 lost

6 held



10 gained

4 lost

2 held



4 gained

10 lost

3 held



8 gained

7 lost

2 held



4 gained

6 lost

6 held



12 gained

0 lost

4 held


I’m one of Webber’s biggest fans, but can’t help but think it’s just his Achilles Heel, or, rather the Red Bull is much more sensitive/unforgiving with it’s clutch etc. than other cars on the grid.

James published an article about this a few years ago:



Lotus apologised to Kimi several times this year for ‘not optimising his start procedure’ which left him bogged down on launch…

There is obviously a lot more team input than is obvious. I’m sure Mark must shoulder some of the blame and its clear Vettel and Massa just have a knack at fast getaways but the team should be doing something to investigate the launch problems for Webber – even if they conclude publicly that its all his own fault! At least then they could have their own PR swing.

The fact that they don’t even look into it seems to arouse suspicion more than Webber asking about it.


Mark never had bad starts before redbull he often got in first Conner crashes but his starts were fine. Ask your self this if it was vettle not getting away do you think redbull would not have fixed it by now.


Conspiracy or not. THIS is the perfect answer!


Mark’s car probably has a unique proximity launch control fitted, the closer to the number 1 car the worse his start will be.

Just something to add to all the conspiracy theories out there on Mark at RBR.

Scuderia McLaren

Engineer to Mark:

So Mark, should the investigation begin from your Minardi days, through to your Jaguar and Williams days and then to present? Your starts have been bad the whole time, in all teams, in all years.

Mark to Engineer:

Nah mate, just the RBR years specifically the 2009-2013 period against Sebastian. I want some data to help me suggest without saying much that I was dogged by the team and subsequently lead people to think I should be the 3 time WDC.

Engineer to Mark:

I don’t think people are that stupid

Mark to Engineer:

Leave it with me mate. People love a conspiracy. If some not even think we’ve landed on the moon, then many will read into the data and draw the conclusions we want.

Engineer to Mark:

yeah but what about sportsmanship. Don’t you want to go out as it is, not cause anymore issues for Red Bull.

Mark to Engineer:

Yeah, the trick is though to pretend I know something critical, that I cant say, but provide some irrelevant data to suggest that what I know is really really terrible. There no way I could face actually being just plain bad at starts.


This sounds like a ‘reverse’ conspiracy theory. It is no more valid than any of the ‘sabotage’ theories that have been raised. In fact, it’s mere suggestion is far more underhanded and low as it attacks the character and integrity of an individual.

Scuderia McLaren

Prefer to think of it as “exposes” the character and integrity of an individual.


Just like Vettel’s own actions at Malaysia show the true colors of his character. Far more so than your fictional and slanderous conversation between Mark Webber and his engineer.


Brilliant! I so hate Webber! The least sporting F1 driver along with Alonso


Couldnt agree any better. Just look at this years qualifying analysis, Vettel to Mark 8-0, this speaks all. Goodness knows what he will do at endurance racing.


One important thing people are forgetting here is that all of Vettel’s WDC rivals were behind Webber so it was a perfect chance for Vettel to wipe out his competitors if mark bogged them all down at the start. Do you think if anyone knows what is going on then would it not be Webber? He was probably worried before to make any issue of this since he still was thinking of his future. Now he has nothing to lose. RBR know that too and they don’t want him tangling with Vettel as they know he will not listen to team orders.


One important thing people are forgetting here is that all of Vettels WDC were behind Webber so it was a perfect chance for Vettel to wipe out hos competitors if mark bogged them all down at the start. Do you think if anyone knows what is going on then would it not be Webber? He was probably worried before to make any issue of this since he still was thinking of his future. Now he has nothing to lose. RBR know that too and they don’t want him tangling with Vettel as they know he will not listen to team orders.


I’ve pondered this quite often during Mark’s career, but I always put down to the fact that he weighs 75kg and is a 6 footer, compared to Vettel who is 58kg and needs a yellow pages to see over the wheel. I’m no scientist, and I’m assuming that there is no other weight equalization performed – but to launch an extra 17kg from a standing start would seem more problematic. Once the car is underway that extra weight would probably assist in cornering traction? Which explains why he is such a good racer? I googled their weights, but made the rest of this up…is anyone with me?


Ever wonder why the drivers get weighed after each race and the cars carry ballast?

There are technical reasons why larger drivers may be slightly disadvantaged but this is related to center of gravity during cornering and nothing to do with starts.


If anything a taller CG will result in more fore aft weight transfer and thus better traction in a pure straight line situation .. IE starts.


You forgetting that both cars will weigh roughly the same because Sebastian’s car will be ballasted up to reach 642kg.


I think they add weight to Seb’s car to balance out the weight difference between the drivers. But they have more flexibility where they can distribute that weight in Seb’s car.

Please correct me if I’m wrong.


do people really think that webber has not gone as deep as possible into the analysis of his starting techniques? c’mon

as i said earlier, webber is asking for an investigation…..why? he is leaving the team and the clock cannot be turned back. obviously he wants to achieve the max result that he can over the remaining races as when the flag drops in brazil that is effectively it for mark webber.

if there is more to it than poor motor skills it should be exposed. if it is solely down to mark webber then he is, by request, more than willing to carry the can.

Adrian Newey Jnr

James – have you ever asked Christian or one of the other senior RB staff why they have never done a “start test” with Mark? This could be done in line with the straight line testing. Practice makes perfect! Seriously though, Mark is a professional. I doubt the issue is consistently his fault.

Craig in Manila

Seriously, all he said was that “We need to have a look at why those pop up from time to time” and this gets blown-up into conspiracies and a whole article about (essentially) one or two sentences made by Webber on the podium immediately after the race.

If he had’ve said “I did everything perfectly but seems that the car is being sabotaged” then THAT would be a story.

He didn’t.

Didn’t even come close.

No story here.


+1, I don’t know what the fuss is all about, sounded very standard to me.

Matthew Cheshire

Its strange. Webber was renowned for qualifying and starting earlier in his career. And Red Bull has had plenty of time to tailor the car to him.

We’ve seen Vettel get the wing and Kers that works first. But what about components we can’t see?

Does Vettel have some launch control and they haven’t risked it for Webber? Echo of Schuey’s Benetton?

RB has complained about the power from the Renault in the past and their aero advantage is nothing at the start. A little help on the starts would be hard to resist?

Does Mark struggle because the car is set up for launch control and not full manual starts?

Has anyone asked Webber’s old engineer Pilbeam? what he thinks?


The system they have in place happens to be better suited to Vettel and has been optimised for him. Webber obviously struggles with it; sometimes mastering it, most of the time not. I don’t think RB is actively sabotaging Webber in this regard. However, they certainly have not made it easy for him, all the while tailoring it to Vettel.

Just my opinion.


Geez, do we really need an “investigation”? We all know what is going on, anyone with half a wit knows what Mark is trying to get across here.

Congrats to Mark 🙂 Must be liberating now that he owes RB nothing. I can’t wait to read his books/articles in the future.


I honestly think Webber’s bad starts are a deliberate remote or preplanned sabotage from his own team, specifically coming from Helmut Marko, Vettel and Vettel’s engineeers. Webber has absolutely terrible starts whenever he is next to or in front of his team mate and on a circuit which suits his driving style. The reason for this back stabbing is simple: They see Vettel as a marketing gold mine.

When Webber retires I think we will hear the truth confirmed for the first time: it’s sabotage.


There is a line of code in Mark’s software …

if (diff($mark_qual_pos,$seb_qual_pos) == 1)

$bog_start = TRUE;

Only the variables have been changed to protect the blonde.

Removes tongue from cheek.

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