A race weekend with Mark Webber 01 Oct 2008
Retiring with gearbox issues wasnt the end to the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix that Red Bulls Mark Webber had wished for. But even though he failed to score any points, Webber enjoyed racing on the Marina Bay circuit so much he cant wait to return next season. We caught up with the Australian driver in Singapore to find out about his typical race weekend and why he cant survive an event without a jar of Vegemite within reach
Q: We were in Singapore this weekend, what do you associate with this circuit?
Mark Webber: Up until now its been a refueling stop on the way home to Australia. Its always been an in-transit destination for me, although I did visit the city last year and drove around the streets that form the circuit. But from now on it will be one of the highlights of the F1 calendar. It was a fantastic experience, although I was not really lucky in the race. Im looking forward to 2009 when I want to do better and get the full flash of the night!
Q: You dont take to the track until Friday, but when do you like to fly in?
MW: For the European races, we arrive on Thursday morning but for flyaway races we usually get in a day or two earlier so we can acclimatize to the time difference and climate. In Singapore, I had a couple of Red Bull commitments, so I arrived on Tuesday morning.
Q: Do you make an effort to discover your surroundings at a race, or do you stick to the airport-hotel-track-airport itinerary?
MW: No, not really. I might do it once when we go to a new venue, but after that my routine becomes the same as it is for any other race - airport, hotel, track and airport.
Q: Whats your exercise regime over a race weekend? Does it vary according to the race location, demands of the circuit etc?
MW: If Im coming in early, then I would train on the Tuesday and Wednesday; if were staying at a city hotel, then I would probably use the gym facilities there, but if it's clean and safe to go outside to train, Id prefer to do that.
Q: Whats your preferred accommodation at races - city hotel, hotel near the circuit, your own motor home near the paddock?
MW: Hotel near the circuit.
Q: Is there anything you have to have provided in your hotel room or any luxuries you always bring with you from home?
MW: No, Im pretty uncomplicated when it comes to things like that. (Partner) Ann might pack some nice-smelling candles when we travel to Japan in an attempt to disguise the smell of stale cigarette smoke that seems to pervade most hotels there, and some decent pillows, but thats about the limit. Its always good to have a jar of Vegemite too but in fact, all the teams Ive raced for in F1 have it anyway.
Q: Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family during a race weekend?
MW: Yes, family and friends came to Singapore from Australia; its good to catch up and talk about things other than F1.
Q: Do you get the chance to go out and socialize on Friday and Saturday night?
MW: In Europe, we tend to eat at the Red Bull Energy Station both nights and stay and watch sport on TV. Most of our Grand Prix weekends clash with the Speedway Grand Prix series, so in Europe I try and watch that on TV on Saturday night. But at away races, we might have dinner at the hotel.
Q: Any drivers you particularly like hanging out with?
MW: I dont socialise with any of the other drivers, but I think Ive got a good professional relationship with most of them.
Q: Your favourite race for nightlife?
MW: Nightlife isnt on my agenda at race weekends.
Q: Whats the best night out youve had at a Grand Prix? And have you ever overslept the next morning?
MW: I wasnt competing in F1 at the time, but I won the F3000 support race at Monaco in 2001 and we had a big night celebrating the win at the Irish bar. The following morning I was supposed to be hosting some Foster's guests on their boat; I didnt oversleep - I managed about four hours' sleep and got to the boat in plenty of time, but I wasnt feeling too good and the harbour had a pretty good swell going! Fosters were very understanding and allowed me to have a few more hours' sleep in one of the cabins. I think I even slept through the F1 warm-up which they used to have in those days.
Q: What do you have for breakfast on a race Sunday?
MW: Muesli, fruit or a fruit smoothie, toast, scrambled eggs.
Q: How much do you drink over a race weekend? And what?
MW: My physio will keep me plied with drink bottles of a hypotonic energy drink from the time I arrive at a race weekend to when I leave. Apart from that, I drink apple juice or water and maybe the occasional glass of red wine.
Q: How do you spend the morning on race Sunday?
MW: Because were not required at the track until around 11am most race days, we might have breakfast at the hotel before driving to the track.
Q: How do you like to get to the circuit on Sunday morning? Do you drive yourself?
MW: I always drive myself
Q: How do you like to spend the hour or so before the race? Any superstitions or pre-race rituals you always go through to bring you luck?
MW: After the drivers parade, I go back to my room and just chill out. I might have a treatment from my physio, watch some sport on TV before getting dressed into my race kit. I dont have any superstitions but I always get changed in the same order and I always get into the car from the same side.
Q: Do you have a lucky charm?
MW: No, I dont carry any lucky charms with me, but a friend of mine gave me an elephant with up-turned trunk which is a lucky symbol.
Q: What do you do to stay calm as youre sat on the grid awaiting the formation lap?
MW: Focus on the job in hand.
Q: How do you wind down after the race
MW: In Europe we leave the track as soon as possible after our post-race debrief to fly home. With some of the shorter-haul flights, it means I can be home in time to walk my dogs by myself, which is the perfect way for me to wind down after a race weekend.
Q: If things dont go your way and you retire early, do you prefer to get away as soon as possible, or hang out and watch the rest of the race?
MW: As I fly with the team in Europe, theres no point in leaving the track early. In the past when I travelled independently, providing I had been given permission from the team to do so, I would be free to leave.