Exclusive interview - Red Bulls Mark Webber 23 May 2009
Mark Webber is back to his old self. Hes put behind him the difficult winter, the broken leg and the misfortune that has come his way at some of the first few races. Now the only way is up, and with a new floor on the RB5 this weekend could a win finally be within reach? Starting from row four, it wont be easy - but with safety cars common in Monaco, its a track where anything can happen
Q: Mark, did qualifying go to plan?
Mark Webber: Yes, but to tell the truth one row further up would have been fantastic. But we got the most of what we could from the situation. In hindsight I would have loved to have done two runs in Q3. It was my idea to do only one but it was not that straightforward because the lap times were coming on lap two and three and we had no time to do three laps twice. Yeah, it could have been a bit better.
Q: You will start the race from row four. What does that mean at a track like Monaco?
MW: Well, it could be a lot worse. You could be with Lewis (Hamilton). I see us in a position to get points, for sure. I see a big chance for a safety-car phase at some stage and you better make sure that you are at the right side of that. But you never know. The car is pretty quick - not as quick as at some other venues or close to being the quickest, but we are in with a good chance.
Q: Youve had your fair share of misfortune this season. Are you still satisfied with how things have gone?
MW: Yeah, it could be a bit better here and there - but then it also could be a lot, lot worse. I had a difficult winter and now Im getting some good points on board - and I am aiming to add some more tomorrow, so I am really looking forward to the middle part of the championship.
Q: Your recovery was amazing, given the seriousness of your injury. Is the old Mark Webber now restored?
MW: I would say so. I would say to have the confidence to drive a Formula One car here in Monaco with a sore leg makes me think that if I can do it here I can do it anywhere. And Ive just proved that I can do it, so it is fine.
Q: The performance of the RB5 has been stunning: no KERS and no double diffuser thus far, yet always racing for podiums. A new floor was announced for this weekends race. Is it on the car?
MW: Yes. And it feels pretty good. It is probably fair to say that everywhere that weve taken this car it was quick. There has been no slow service for us. Other teams, with the exception of Brawn GP, have had their ups and downs, so we have been very consistent as well. Maybe Monaco is not one of our strongest tracks, but we will of course be very competitive. Well, we are still competitive here but maybe not as competitive as weve been at other venues. But we will be very competitive in the future - there is no doubt about that. And coming back to your question: the new floor works really well.
Q: Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz has announced should the currently-planned FIA cost cap come into force for 2010, he will not submit an entry for either of his teams. Is that something that makes a driver worry for his future?
MW: No. I am sticking with Dietrich. I am with Dietrich all the way. Whatever he is doing Im agreeing with. He has supported me for a long time and I really enjoy driving for him. I am on the same boat as him - Im rowing with him in the same direction. Sure, that could mean that I find myself without a job next year, but if thats what we need to do then thats fine with me. We are hunting packs and I am hunting with Dietrich.
Q: Team principal Christian Horner said that the teams recent race win redefined the goals. What are they now? And what is your personal goal for this season?
MW: Obviously Im fourth in the drivers championship and I have no plans whatsoever going backwards from that position. Im trying to go forward from there and that also goes for the constructors championship. We are second and there is a big ask from us to close on Brawn because theyre performing on a very high level, but we need to push them. There is one team to go in the constructors and there are a few drivers to go in the drivers championship. I want to go forward in both championships.
Q: Ross Brawn sees the RB5 as his teams most serious competitor at the moment. Will we see a two-way fight for the championship? Are Ferrari only doing well here because of the characteristics of this race track?
MW: I see that Ferrari has improved. We saw Felipe (Massa) in Barcelona and the car is not too bad here. Ferrari arent doing too bad at all and we should not underestimate them. There are still many races to go! So I see that it might not just be two teams but three who will fight it out.
Q: So do you still see Red Bull Racing as the second power on the grid?
MW: Yes, at the moment you have to say so. As a team and as drivers we are doing a similar job to Brawn - if you look at the mistakes. Our role has been solid as a team. Ferrari made some mistakes and had some misfortune, Toyota had some ups and downs like many other teams. If you look at the consistency of the whole package weve done a pretty good job.
Q: At the moment Sebastian Vettel seems to have the edge on you - is he your most challenging team mate so far?
MW: Yes, he is. But he is not out of the world. That is what Formula One is all about! You put yourself against the good guys. He is very young and he knows where the right pedal is a lot and together were working it out for the team.
Q: From your seven starts so far in Monaco youve finished three times in the points - once on the podium - but also retired four times. Is it a track your like?
MW: Yes I like Monaco. Its a good race. I love it because it is a very tough race mentally and the concentration is at a high level. I had many technical problems here in the past, but some good races as well. Monaco is a unique track for the drivers. Theres no other track like it. Mentally you need to stay alive for the whole two hours. Its a long Grand Prix and very repetitive. The laps keep coming at you and you need to keep focusing on the car.
Q: Whats your prediction for Sundays race?
MW: Well have two safety cars and I finish fourth!