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Pre-India analysis - Webber: I'll need perfection to beat Vettel 25 Oct 2013

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Friday, 25 October 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Friday, 25 October 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Thursday, 24 October 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9 on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 13 October 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing in the Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 13 October 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 13 October 2013

As he faces his final race in India, Red Bull’s Mark Webber admitted yesterday that it’s going to take something special to beat Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel here this weekend.

“He’s on a phenomenal run obviously,” the Japanese Grand Prix polesitter acknowledged, “and with his stats here in the last few years he’s been pretty strong. It needs a perfect weekend - pole, perfect race, perfect strategy, perfect everything to obviously put him off the top step, so that’s got to be the plan.”

For a while it seemed that might be happening for the Australian in Suzuka, until the change of strategy in the race worked in Vettel’s favour. Webber said he hadn’t been thinking too much about that.

“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 [Grosjean]. What I said at the time is still pretty accurate today.

“As for Seb, obviously he’s had an incredible run. Some of the championships have been tight, some less tight. Obviously ’11 and this year have been pretty much a non-event but 2010 and 2012 were up to the last race. I think he’s certainly done an incredible job. I think he’s been very strong on the Pirellis; obviously on the Bridgestones it was probably a little bit tighter but on Pirellis he’s certainly been very strong and had no real weaknesses on those tyres, so it’s been strong for him. He’s just super consistent and that’s what’s made him strong, and also getting the most out of the package. Obviously the car’s been quick and he’s capitalised on a lot of venues. He’s won with a dominant car but also he’s won with a car which some races was probably not... certainly over those four years he’s been able to win races he probably shouldn’t have won. That’s also been a quality of his.”

Like all of the drivers, Webber isn’t sure what to expect from the Pirelli tyres this weekend, as the company have gone for a slightly more aggressive policy and brought along their medium and soft compounds. “It’s 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. I think we’ll find out here whether it’s... 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’ll find out on Friday with the long runs, maybe.”

Looking forward to the changes that will sweep the sport in 2014, he agreed that they were needed.

“To be fair, I think Formula One needed a bit of a facelift in terms of technology, which they’re going to get next year. Maybe it’s not what we all want in terms of all the electric stuff and those type of things but that’s the way all the manufacturing and all those types of things are going in terms of car production, so Formula One should be the benchmark in terms of rolling that stuff out. How it’s going to go in terms of a spectacle only time will tell. I’m sure it’s going to be good. The main thing with Formula One is the drivers, they’re the important thing. You can have what cars you want but if you’ve still got the best drivers out there then that’s the most important thing. But in terms of sportscars and Formula One, obviously the technology is going to be very similar. Sportscars now are super technical as well.

“I think that whenever you make a big regulation change like we are going to do next year, the midfield and the smaller teams are really going to be stretched, so I think that the gap between Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren maybe is probably going to be bigger.”

Going into the last four races of his F1 career he says nothing has changed in his mental approach.

“My mentality hasn’t really changed, mate, from the start of the year. 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 anymore - but it’s a beautiful circuit. This one is not bad and yeah, some good tracks to look forward to. That’s the bit that I still enjoy - to a degree. And 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… yeah… it’ll be four weeks and that’s it. But if I don’t get another victory, it won’t change how I remember the sport.

“I still look back fondly. I would never have thought when I left Australia that I’d have the results and the career that I’ve had. So, another win or so, of course it would be nice but it’s not going to change my retirement too much.”

Webber also said he was sad that this will be the final Indian Grand Prix in the foreseeable future. “Obviously the fan base is certainly growing very, very fast. I know cricket is the number one sport here by a long way but they’ve certainly shown some incredible enthusiasm to try and understand and attract some interest in the sport. They’re proud to have a very, very high profile sport which Formula One is and the track layout is sensational. They’re doing what they can to hold a very nice event here but it doesn’t seem to have been enough for next year. I hope that we can come back in the future.”

David Tremayne

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