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Racing to glory? Webber and Vettel give their verdict on the RB5 12 Feb 2009

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull racing RB5 and Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB5 Red Bull Racing F1 Team launch the RB5, 9 February 2009, Jerez, Spain. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB5 Formula One Testing, 9 - 13 February 2009, Jerez, Spain. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB5 Formula One Testing, 9 - 13 February 2009, Jerez, Spain. Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB5 Formula One Testing, 9 - 13 February 2009, Jerez, Spain. Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB5 Formula One Testing, 9 - 13 February 2009, Jerez, Spain.

Since the RB5’s launch at Jerez on Monday, both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have had chance to sample Red Bull’s 2009 car. While new signing Vettel took charge of driving duties on Tuesday, Webber, who is still recovering from the cycling accident which broke his leg back in November, spent Wednesday in the cockpit. We caught up with the Red Bull duo at the Spanish track to ask about their first impressions of the new car…

Q: Sebastian, after a rocky shakedown on Monday, you spent a full day in the car on Tuesday and are back in the cockpit on Thursday. Do you have a better understanding of the RB5’s potential now?
Sebastian Vettel:
It is still difficult to say. But I am convinced that we will be able to close the gap to the frontrunners more than last year. But I still see Ferrari and McLaren clearly in the front - again they will call the shots. And whether someone will be able to evoke a surprise is still to be seen. I wish it would be us, but you have to stay realistic. In reality, at the moment, nobody really knows where they stand, it is all guesswork. Towards the end of the testing period, things should become clearer as all the teams will test at the same track - so you can compare times.

Over the winter I’ve been to the factory seven or eight times to see for myself the development of the RB5, and the impression was good. The tyres should work much better this year, as we have more mechanical grip, and that should help us quite a bit. The balance is good, although it’s difficult to tell because the track here is very abrasive for the tyres. KERS is still to be seen. It could be an advantage. It is a very complex technology. At the moment we have it on the car, but we don’t have the option right now to ‘press the button’. As I have no experience of it, it is difficult to judge.

Q: Mark, after a long winter break while you recovered from your broken leg, you spent your first day in the new car on Wednesday. How did it go?
Mark Webber:
It went a lot better than I thought it would. My guess was that my leg would get a bit ‘angry’ in the car - but nothing happened. There were no problems at all. There were a lot of questions in my head when I lowered myself into the car, but they have all disappeared, which is good. The plan is that I will rest the whole of Thursday and get back into the car on Friday. It was really important to drive at this test, because if I didn’t, I would have had to wait another two weeks. I needed at least to try here. And I had nothing to lose. I think we are in pretty good shape.

I felt quite relaxed in the car. I had guessed that I probably would have been a bit short of breath at the beginning. But I was able to do 83 laps, and ended with a pretty satisfying time. What I have experienced with the car is very encouraging, or let’s put it a different way - it could be a lot, lot worse. The new regulations are massive, you could almost say that it is a new category. So the undertaking for any team, including us, was immense.

It probably will be the most beautiful car on the grid, so let’s hope that it is also fast. I can say that the car feels good, but if you are not quick, it doesn’t feel good. At the end of the day, the stopwatches are our biggest challenge. We have a lot more work still ahead of us but for the moment we seem to be okay. My guess is that our concept will work and we are going the right way. The design is a bit radical in places, let’s hope that works out. It totally fits with Red Bull anyway. We are not conservative. Red Bull is all about radical. On Sunday night in Melbourne we will have more definite answers.