Tag Archives: Webber

Horner on Webber: “You’ve got to be a bit of a tough character…”

Red Bull boss Christian Horner was delighted to see Mark Webber go out on a high with a charging drive to second place in Brazil.

In the course of it Webber passed Fernando Alonso twice, and also got by Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.

“It’s fantastic for Mark to sign off his F1 career with a really strong drive,” said Horner. “I said to him before the podium are you sure you want to retire? Your move on Lewis, around the outside into Turn 5 or wherever it was, was massively impressive. It’s great for him to sign off while he’s still at the top of his game.

“Mark had to pass [Alonso] twice, once after the start, and then obviously after he has a slowish pit stop. We had a problem with the left rear gun, which dropped him just behind Fernando, and he had to pass him again. Thereafter it was a matter of managing the tyres we were on and the gap. Mark always had enough in hand.”

Horner said that Webber has made a big contribution to the team over the years.

“In the seven years that Mark has been with the team it’s been an incredible journey for him and the team. He’d got one podium to his name and a great reputation. I’d tied to sign a few years earlier than that to drive for the team I had in F3000 at the time. And so his pace was never in doubt. He’s grown since he’s been here. It’s tremendous to see the success he’s achieved, and of course he’s played such a big part in four constructors’ World Championships, the development of the car.

“Adrian and all the technical guys have all enjoyed working with him, and found his feedback invaluable, his pace, the speed that he’s had, has been extremely impressive. It’s been unlucky for him that he’s had a team mate called Sebastian Vettel. So many sportsmen go out with a bit of a whimper, he’s still at the top of his game, and he’s signed off in absolutely style.”

He also agreed that it could not have been easy to be up against a team mate who was at the top of his game.

“You’ve got to be a bit of a tough character. People underestimate, I think, how good Sebastian is. He’s a very, very fine racing driver. Of course it’s hugely difficult for any sportsman. He’s brushed himself down, he’s got himself motivated, sometimes in a manner that might be uncomfortable for the team to deal with. That’s worked for him, and he’s got the absolutely best out of himself.”


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Mark Webber: “If the Kleenex is out, I’ve made the wrong decision…”

Mark Webber will start his final Grand Prix in Brazil from fourth on the grid after struggling to get the best out of his intermediate tyres on a drying track in Q3.

Meanwhile Webber is playing down the emotional resonance of the weekend, having said on Thursday that it was business as usual.

The drivers’ briefing was interesting,” he said when asked by this writer if it was now hitting home. “Just because the guys gave me a very good reception, and I had a little chat with them. Obviously your colleagues, they’re the ones that you work so hard to compete against over 17 years, and that means a lot to you, so that was quite touching.

So, good to get a good reception off those guys, a lot that have obviously raced for all of my races, that was good. That was a bit of wake-up call, and tomorrow, but other than that, completely normal to be honest, mate.

I’ll come in, I’ll do my normal prep, I’m not going to change much now. We’ll do what we can tomorrow, and if it’s like this it’s sensational for the neutral at home, but obviously on the pit wall and in the car it’s a super testing venue, as we saw today. Sergio dropped it obviously, so it’s easy to have some problems with this track.”

Webber’s former RBR team mate David Coulthard’s last race finished on the first lap at this very venue.

Of course, it will be nice to finish well. DC was very unfortunate. Most of the time statistically a Grand Prix driver in his last race it’s his last race for a reason, it’s not because he’s at the top! Or he didn’t know it was his last race and got sacked over the winter. In my case I do know it’s my last race, I’ll go out there and do my best. Obviously there might be some things creeping into my mind here and there, but I’ll keep those out as much as I can, and just focus on the job at hand.

Maybe tomorrow when I get into the car for the last time and step out of the car for the last time, that will be the most extreme case of emotions. If the Kleenex is out, I’ve made the wrong decision…”

He admitted some frustration about qualifying.

I never felt comfortable on the last set,” said the Aussie. “It was better on the extremes, inters I was in the shit the first lap, tried to get them in the second lap, third lap… I thought we’d be worse off, to be honest. That was that.” He added: “I’m not going to talk about, it’s a non-event for me, tyres and the conditions.”


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Helmut Marko: “Now we go to win the last three races…”

Red Bull motor sport boss Helmut Marko says that the Indian GP was a lot more stressful for the team than it looked from the outside, despite Sebastian Vettel’s huge advantage at the flag.

Marko adds that the team now wants to finish the season by winning the remaining races.

“We had this problem on Mark’s car with the alternator,” he told this writer. “And with an alternator, bang, it just comes, there’s not much you can do. We also had a risky strategy, coming in on lap two, and then I don’t know how many people Seb overtook – just to the people who say he can’t overtake! And everybody was really relieved and more than happy, and now we go to win the last three races, and then we think about 2014. That’s our passion, and our approach to racing. And that’s what makes us successful.”

Intriguingly Marko says that Vettel raised his game in the latter part of the season.

“Unbelievable. He was already on a high level, but when he came back from the summer break it was a different step – no mistakes, always quick, using the tyres in the right way. I think it was perfection.”

Regarding the mechanical misfortunes that have hit Mark Webber so often this year, he pointed out that Vettel has not been immune to problems in the past: “There have been so many little issues with Mark’s car that were unfortunate, but that’s racing. Last year Seb had two alternator failures, he had engine failures in 2010, and so on. In the end it equalises.”


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Mark Webber: “It would be nice to get a top result before the year’s out…”

Mark Webber says he hasn’t changed his approach as the clock ticks down to his final Grand Prix in Brazil next month, and he still hopes to log his first 2013 victory.

The Aussie had a chance to win the last race in Suzuka having started from pole, but ultimately he lost out to his team mate.

“My mentality hasn’t really changed, from the start of the year,” said Webber. “Still enjoying driving the car to a degree and no exception to that. The last Grand Prix, obviously the best racing track in the world in Suzuka – unfortunately they can’t design them like that any more – but it’s a beautiful circuit.

“This is not bad and [there are] some good tracks to look forward to. That’s the bit that I still enjoy – to a degree. I think the last four is not really changing how I go about it. It would be nice to get a top result before the year’s out, but it’ll be four weeks and that’s it.”

Webber said it was hard to predict how the Pirellis will behave this weekend.

“Very difficult to predict how the tyres will behave. We know how sensitive they are. Even when we had the slight change of construction during the year we see some teams coming forward, some teams going back, some drivers being happy, some drivers less happy. The tyres are super super sensitive. Last year was quite easy on the tyres, we had a pretty comfortable one stop. Whether that’s possible again, I’m not sure. We will find out on Friday with the long runs, maybe.”

Meanwhile he said that he’s still frustrated at how the Japanese GP unfolded, although he admitted he hadn’t looked into it.

“I haven’t gone over any data whatsoever from the last race. I still stand by what I said at the time but obviously a bit surprised that we elected to do that. Having a three stop, you’ve got to pass two cars to win the race instead of maybe sticking to a two where we just focused on trying to beat Romain. What I said at the time is still pretty accurate today.”




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Christian Horner: “If he had any fillings he won’t have any more…”

Christian Horner says that his Red Bull team did an “incredible job” to deal with tyre and gearbox issues during what looked from the outside like a straightforward win for Sebastian Vettel in Monza.

Vettel made his life harder in the first stint by flat spotting a front tyre at Turn One, and later there were concerns about the gearbox. It says a lot that the German only set the 12th fastest lap as he nursed the car home – and for once he didn’t try to add to his tally in the record books.

“It was a fantastic weekend for us really,” said Horner. “We had a few issues to manage during the race, but an incredible team performance. We’ve been strong all weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We had a few issues that did need managing during the race – Sebastian locking up into the first turn created a big flat spot, which put a massive vibration into the car that he was certainly concerned about, and we were monitoring quite closely. If he had any fillings he won’t have any more!

“Then we managed to get into the one-stop window. A fantastic double stop by the guys, 2.6s and 2.7s. It was enough to get Mark ahead of Massa, get Sebastian back out into the lead on a round set of tyres, and control the race thereafter.”

Both Red Bull had their fifth, sixth and seventh gear ratios changed before the race – for identical replacements – and the team became further concerned when Webber had another issue in the race, which led to both drivers being asked to short shift to protect their equipment.

“The only issue we had after that was loss of gearbox pressure in Mark’s car in the closing laps, which we just needed to take some precautions with to get to the finish.

“We had a bit of damage to a couple of dog rings on both cars. Under parc ferme after applying to the FIA due to it being damaged they were allowed to be replaced. Of course when that’s hanging over you, and we weren’t sure why that happened, we’ve not seen that before, and it’s not something that happened on the Caterham gearbox, which is obviously something that we supply. We were concerned as to why that was there.

“When you’re sitting there in the race not quite knowing what’s caused that issue and then you start to lose gearbox pressure, obviously it was a bit of a concern.

“If it was happening to one, the chances were [it would again]– because yesterday it happened to both. So as a precaution we asked Sebastian to do the same thing.”

Meanwhile Horner was unconcerned about the booing of Vettel on the podium.

“I think anybody racing a Ferrari, and beating a Ferrari, at Monza, in Italy, is never going to be cheered! It was inevitable that there wasn’t going to be a big reaction for Sebastian beating Fernando Alonso in front of the tifosi who have come to cheer their car and team around. I don’t think it surprised any of us the reaction that there was. If anything it fuels the motivation of Sebastian just to go out there and continue to improve.”

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Analysis: Is Alonso still in the frame at RBR?

The consensus in the paddock at Spa was that Daniel Ricciardo had already got the nod for the second Red Bull seat, and Mark Webber added fuel to the fire by telling Australian TV that it was a done deal.

However Christian Horner continues to insist that the team has yet to decide who will get the drive.

Ricciardo is signed to Red Bull Racing anyway, and in effect the team could call on his services at any time up to the start of next season. Even if the Aussie doesn’t get the RBR job he will be in a Toro Rosso with an identical powertrain/gearbox package to the RB10, and thus potentially in a competitive seat.

There appears to be no logical reason why Red Bull would not have announced Ricciardo if he had already been guaranteed the drive. Indeed from a PR standpoint an early announcement would be a show of faith in the junior programme at a time when other options were available.

The bottom line is that Horner wouldn’t be doing his job if he didn’t continue to explore other interesting options, given that Ricciardo isn’t going anywhere. Two World Champions are currently without a 2014 contract – Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button – while sources continue to suggest that Fernando Alonso is still not 100% committed to Ferrari.

When this writer asked Bernie Ecclestone if he thought that Felipe Massa would be staying at Maranello, he replied: “They should be more worried about hanging on to Alonso…”

The value of having two experienced, proven winners on board for what will be a complicated season for all the teams is obvious, and at the same time if RBR takes a second top driver it will in turn damage a rival.

“There’s plenty of speculation about, but nothing has been signed yet,” said Horner at Spa. “So the situation is still as I said before the race, we’ve got time to contemplate who we’re going to put in the other seat, and there will be no announcement certainly before Monza.

“Mark obviously isn’t privy to all of the discussions with drivers. When there’s something to announce, we’ll certainly announce it. It will probably go on beyond Monza.”

Elaborating on Ricciardo’s situation, he said: “Both Toro Rosso drivers are on Red Bull Racing contracts. They’re on loan to Toro Rosso, so at any point they are available for us to call upon. So we don’t have to worry about those two, because they’re products of the Red Bull junior team, and the reason we’re taking the time is to look at what other options are about.

“Obviously they are very big shoes to fill next year. We want to field the strongest possible team that we can, so therefore it’s absolutely prudent to look at all the options that are available. It’s actually surprised us the options that are available that perhaps we didn’t think were.”

It’s widely assumed that it would be impossible for Sebastian Vettel to operate alongside a proven superstar, but Horner says that’s not an issue.

“To be honest with you Sebastian has no input or veto or requirement for any blessing over that second seat. He wants obviously to have a competitive team mate, because he wants to be pushed, as Mark has pushed him. He hasn’t voiced any opinions, strongly or otherwise, in any way. He sees it very much as a team position, and that’s very much the way it is.”

While many observers struggle to understand why Alonso might want to leave Ferrari, it may well be that he simply has fears about the competitiveness of the 2014 powertrain package.

It remains unclear in what circumstances Alonso might be able to walk away from what appears to be a solid Ferrari contract, unless it contains a generous performance clause that works in his favour – for example something that relates to driver and team having failed to win a World Championship over their four years together.

Of course as ever there are some potentially some games in the background, and it’s easy to suggest that Alonso is simply finding ways to motivate his current team, while Horner is destabilising the likes of Ferrari and Lotus by keeping the driver debate open.

However, it’s worth remembering that it’s dangerous to second guess what Alonso might do. Not many people expected him to leave his home at Renault for McLaren, or indeed walk away from an ultra competitive McLaren at the end of 2007 – even allowing for the rather awkward way that season unfolded, and the breakdown of his relationship with the team management.

As someone close to Fernando said at Spa, “At McLaren he finished a point behind the champion, and he still quit…”


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Ricciardo gets his chance with Red Bull test

Not surprisingly Red Bull has changed its plans for the Silverstone Young Driver test, and the team will now be giving both race drivers and Daniel Ricciardo some miles in the RB9.

Ricciardo’s inclusion is clear evidence that the Aussie is on the cusp of landing a 2014 race seat, with Kimi Raikkonen as his obvious rival for the job.

Red Bull’s ambitious run plan sees it split each day in half as it tries to squeeze in mileage for five different drivers. The schedule is as follows:

Day 1: António Félix da Costa/Daniel Ricciardo

Day 2: António Félix da Costa/Mark Webber

Day 3: Carlos Sainz Jr/Sebastian Vettel

The team points out that “Antonio’s test with Infiniti Red Bull Racing fulfils the team’s commitment to grant the mid-season leader of the World Series by Renault a full day’s test in the RB9.”

Meanwhile Toro Rosso will be equally busy at it too runs five different drivers over the three days:

Day 1: Johnny Cecotto Jr/Johnny Cecotto Jr

Day 2: Carlos Sainz Jr/Daniel Ricciardo

Day 3: Jean-Eric Vergne/Daniil Kvyat

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