Exclusive interview - RBRs Mark Webber 23 Jan 2007
After two disappointing seasons with Williams, Mark Webber is ready to embark on a new chapter in his career with Red Bull Racing. Although Webber is still adjusting to Red Bulls unique marketing methods, it is already clear the Australian feels very much at home with his new employers, and - ahead of its launch on Friday - cant wait to get his hands on the new Adrian Newey-designed RB3
Q: Joining Red Bull must feel a little like coming home - at least in terms of the teams base in Milton Keynes. Alongside the familiar faces from your time with Jaguar and Renault, there is now Adrian Newey, who is charged with masterminding the teams future success. Based on your experience over the last couple of weeks, how would you describe your relationship with Newey?
Mark Webber: Yes, it does feel like coming home. I remember many faces from the factory and some of the guys on my car are the same guys as last time, but in terms of the engineers Ive had to build new relationships. Thats one of the reasons why it was important for me to get in some testing before the New Year. Ive been very impressed with Adrian so far. Our relationship? Well, I think the relationship with him is something that will evolve as the season unravels itself and how we each deliver will determine that relationship.
Q: Newey seems to embody the teams hopes for 2007. Do you think one year will be enough for him to make an impression? Or will the team only realistically challenge for regular podium finishes in 2008?
MW: I am certain Red Bull Racing will have by far the strongest season this team has ever had in all its various guises. But I think 2008 will be the year when we can really look for results. But then Formula One is so unpredictable, so why not have a lucky day like Monaco last year.
Q: If there is a year to wait for real results, could it be you have joined Red Bull too early?
MW: I joined Red Bull Racing because it was the best prospect for my career at that moment. Maybe it is a year too soon but maybe not. No one has a crystal ball to predict the future - there are so many changes even with the top teams such as Ferrari, Renault and McLaren, that its hard to predict anything. Whos going to win the constructors championship? I certainly dont know.
Q: With hindsight, your decision to join Williams was arguably the first setback youve experienced in your racing career. How much did that experience influence your move to Red Bull? And could your Formula One career withstand a second setback?
MW: Well, I definitely needed a change of scenery so we were always on the look-out for a new drive for 2007. As everyone knows, I was the one pushing for a Williams drive at the end of 2004 whereas Flavio (Briatore, Webbers manager) had always been very much against it. This time Ive listened to him - he has far better vision about where Formula One will be a few years down the road than anyone else I know. So, yes my career took a setback with Williams, but Im not anticipating a second one with RBR.
Q: Were you surprised to be offered a seat at Red Bull? What do you think swung the decision in your favour?
MW: I was probably only surprised by the fact that looking from the outside, the perception of the team was about all youth. Obviously, with David (Coulthard) already with the team and able to provide them with a wealth of F1 experience, I was initially surprised that they might want two experienced drivers. But, it became fairly obvious early on in the discussions that they were deadly serious about being successful in Formula One and were laying the foundations for a very strong team.
Q: The Coulthard-Newey alliance seems to be a match made in heaven. Where do you fit in?
MW: Yes its clear that DC and Adrian have a relationship from their McLaren days, but its something Im not bothered about. I want to earn Adrians respect as soon as I can and in turn I hope that will help to nurture our own strong relationship.
Q: The pre-Christmas tests were of little significance to you as you drove the old car with last years Ferrari engine. However, you did get a taste of the teams inner workings. What was your first impression?
MW: The most important thing for me with the pre-Christmas test was to get used to working with my race engineers and that went very well. In terms of bigger picture stuff, I was able to see things from a distance and some of these will be addressed in the New Year.
Q: Joining Red Bull, with its strong focus on marketing, will undoubtedly be a new experience
MW: After being used to the very different way Williams operated, its been a case of relearning some of my people skills, to be honest. Id forgotten what it was like to have this level of freedom and to actually be able to enjoy what Im doing.
Q: After spending 60 days with your new team, what has been the most illuminating experience so far?
MW: Seeing people enjoying their work.