Q&A with Red Bulls Mark Webber 26 Mar 2009
With his broken leg now healed and willing, a track that has been kind to him in the past, and the boost of having a home crowd cheering him on, Red Bulls Mark Webber believes he could well surprise this weekend in Melbournes Australian Grand Prix
Q: Mark, what were your thoughts when you saw all the devastation caused by the Australian bush fires?
Mark Webber: Unbelievable. I have seen a lot of bush fires in the past, but if you see the condition of the soil, and how almost by random what the fire chose to burn and what not - five or six houses in a row gone and then one alley perfectly standing - the pace in which the fire moved, I have never seen something like that before. It was a phenomenal experience going there and to see it with my own eyes. It was very emotional.
Q: Coming back to this weekend. Its your home race, your leg is obviously willing, so the odds look pretty good
MW: I hope so. The track has always been pretty good to me in the past in terms of my performances here. I hope I have a smooth weekend, of course, to qualify well and go from there. And as for my leg - it wants to get the race done.
Q: KERS and how it impacts the taller and heavier drivers seems to be a never ending story. Would it help to raise the overall weight of the car?
MW: Of course it would. And it would not be unfair to do that. The smaller drivers dont get a disadvantage but at the moment the bigger guys do, so it would only be fair. And it would save a lot of money, too. At the moment the teams are spending money to make the cars lighter and by increasing the minimum weight to a sensible number, the teams would not have to spend money on saving weight. The weight limit is incredibly aggressive! I am not Pavarotti and still its not easy.
Q: Should there be an increase in the minimum weight, it wont happen before 2010. Will that mean that in 2009 you are at a clear disadvantage?
MW: It makes it harder for teams to make the car work. That is why I said that the weight limit is aggressive. If the weight limit was higher it would make it less challenging, less whatever. I have heard one of the teams say that the taller drivers have a strength advantage. What a lot of rubbish. Its not a strength advantage as all the guys on the grid are strong.
Q: Would it make sense to postpone KERS until 2010?
MW: Ah, that is a whole different subject. I think that KERS will be staying and that the weight is the challenge.
Q: Coming back to your leg. At the last test two weeks ago you still were limping a bit and now you are walking around as if nothing ever had happened. What did you do last week?
MW: I did a lot of sessions - swimming in the morning, biking during lunchtime, then specific rehab work in the afternoon in the gym for muscle grouping. And to do this for five or six days was pretty tough because I havent done it for a while. Everything was working very well, the leg responded very well to the bike rides, and that gave me a lot of confidence.
Q: With all the rule changes, do you feel this could be your biggest chance to get somewhere with Red Bull Racing?
MW: I think it is a great opportunity for us, there is no question about that. We had good continuity as there have been no changes for us internally in the key roles. A regulation change coming along like this, I feel can only be something which would help a team like Red Bull Racing. I hope it will happen that way.
Q: This could also be a key season for you, as you try to prove that you belong on the podium?
MW: Of course. There was no way I would be here if I had not performed in 02 or 03 or 04. You simply have to perform and I want it that way. If I am not performing, or any other driver isnt, you dont survive at this level. Formula One is the highest level and I am looking forward to this challenge every year. Every time I drive down the pit lane I know that I have to deliver the next sets of laps. That is what sportsmen love - going over that line thinking: can I, cant I - yes I can! And here I am again.
Q: Can this season bring you to the next level?
MW: Well, all that changes every year is probably the number on the pit board. The way you approach things is always very similar. Of course the strategy might change if you are in the top few. I have done enough races where Ive been in the top few and you know what you have to do - to get to the next pit stop as fast as possible. And when your pit stops are over you need to get to the chequered flag as quickly as possible. The roles are pretty simple.
Q: The rear of the car seems to be something of a soft spot for most of the cars. Could that be a problem for overtaking?
MW: There are many facets to the (work of the) Overtaking Working Group to make overtaking happen. Now we have to see how that goes in the real world. But we also have to understand that spectacular overtaking is never on a straight. We have seen great racing over the past few years and we will see great racing this season, but no one remembers cars overtaking on the straight - where was a fantastic move on a straight? We remember Nigel Mansell on the outside in Mexico, or Gilles Villeneuve. Those are the things we remember and we have to make them happen again. Best would be here this weekend!