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Pre-Barcelona analysis - Webber out for Spanish double 20 May 2011

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 15 April 2011 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB7. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Shanghai, China, Saturday, 16 April 2011 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Preparations, Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, 19 May 2011 Race winner Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race, Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, 9 May 2010 Red Bull Racing RB7 diffuser detail.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Chinese Grand Prix, Practice Day, Shanghai, China, Friday, 15 April 2011

Mark Webber, last year’s winner here for Red Bull, is not only determined to kick start his world championship quest with a repeat performance this weekend but also suggests we will see a much more exciting Spanish race than we have of late at the Circuit de Catalunya.

“It will definitely be better than what we have had in the past,” the Australian said yesterday. “It has to be. The tyres are playing a big role these days and the wing on this straight as well. The last sector in Turkey is a little bit more open for different moves, so Turn One here is a bit different but you can still get the job done with the tyres and with the wing. It will be a different Spanish Grand Prix to what we have seen in the past in terms of overtaking. Not the most overtakes we have seen here in the past, but that will probably change on Sunday.”

Crucially, he believes that drivers may be able to get close enough in the final corner to pull a move down the very long front straight. “If someone is in trouble on the tyres, it doesn’t matter who you are,” he said, referring to vulnerability in such situations.

He also believes that the development of Pirelli’s deliberately less durable tyres has placed less of a premium on qualifying than there has been for many seasons, something he proved dramatically in China where he qualified 18th and could have won had the race been as little as two laps longer.

“It was absolutely crucial in years gone by, qualifying, we know that. Where you finished the first lap in the seasons gone, particularly when refuelling was brought back in, was very, very sensitive. You had to get it right. When we had pit stops before that with fuelling it was still important but you could still get something out of it by going longer, shorter and recovering a bit. But, at the moment, we know with these regulations you can recover the most we have seen in the last 10 years, so it has changed a lot.”

He also offered a reason why he has yet to out-qualify team-mate Sebastian Vettel after being able to do that several times in 2010.

“What’s absolutely clear is that we were very, very, very even on the Bridgestone tyres,” he said, “and it’s not quite like that on the Pirellis so far, particularly on new tyres. That’s not an excuse, but that’s the only thing that’s changed. It’s a big change for the drivers, obviously, to get used to that. Seb’s doing a good job and clearly it’s up to me to do better.”

Webber has one of the best records here, with seven finishes from eight races, including pole and victory last year, and admitted that it seems to be a good place for him. “Seems to be, yeah. I didn’t know I’d finished that many races here. I will try to keep that going and have a clean weekend and try to go one step further than the last few races and do what I did last year. It would be nice. We need a perfect weekend. We know that. To win at this level you need to get everything right. It is not like I am starting to try now. I have been trying the last few races. Turkey was the first race where I had a clean weekend with the car, which was nice, so we managed to have reasonable quallie, reasonable first stint, and after that it was a good race with Fernando and we still managed to get a good result. But the other races have been a bit more chaotic for different reasons. We look to have less chaotic races and keep it as Turkey was and keep executing a clean grand prix and getting it all right and that’s what you need to do to win.”

Surprisingly, he said that Red Bull have no major updates here, at a race where everyone else will do, and was critical of possible fluctuations in the rules regarding blown diffusers. “Nothing,” he responded slightly tongue-in-cheek to a question about upgrades. Spark plugs, new spark plugs.”

And as for the blown floor, “You tell me. We don’t know either. It changes every hour. It [a ban] will affect all the fast teams for sure. It’s out of our hands, isn’t it mate. At the start of the week it was banned, this week not, today not. Another Technical Working Group meeting after Monaco, but I think it will affect all the top teams that have been utilising this system, not just this year but obviously a little bit last year.”

David Tremayne

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