Exclusive Mark Webber Q&A: I want to get the job done this year 03 Feb 2011
The 2010 season was very nearly Mark Webbers. After so many years plugging away in lesser cars, Webber had a dominant Red Bull and came close to clinching the title, only to see Formula One racings ultimate goal vanish before his eyes and go to his team mate Sebastian Vettel. 'Disappointing' doesnt come close. But after a few months away from the paddock, a reinvigorated Webber is ready to make his dreams come true in 2011
Q: Mark, you had a bit of a slow start to your pre-season testing. Are you still optimistic?
Mark Webber: Absolutely. The car was running perfectly with Seb (Vettel) so why should it be any different with me? Sometimes there is a bit of a hiccup but then we have to understand that these cars are high-tech machines and the smallest thing can sometimes make a big difference.
Q: Lets rewind to 2010. You were almost champion, are you still feeling frustrated? Any pent-up anger?
MW: Nothing. Im completely over it. Life goes on and I dont feel any regret. I lost the championship in the last race and over the whole season no one had a one-race lead over the other guys fighting for the title. Every race was alive. Even if we'd had one more race after Abu Dhabi four guys could have still won the championship. It was quite a season. It was an incredible year. It looked like nobody was the favourite for the championship. Sebastian led it in one race. He did a great job and deserved the championship. Fernando (Alonso) drove incredibly well with the car he had and I also had some special moments myself. Thereve been a lot of great moments for me, but of course I didnt get the jackpot. But I am still very proud of what happened. I am definitely looking to improve this year.
Q: But is life still the same after 2010?
MW: Life is absolutely the same. I am healthy, my family is healthy. That is the important thing. After that we go racing. Im simply looking forward to this year.
Q: 2010 was the best season of your career, but maybe that fact was a little overshadowed by your title disappointment?
MW: Well, of course a little bit - if you are so close and then have to walk away without the title... I should have done a bit better at the start of the season. You can look at all the ifs and buts, but then Sebastian can do that, Fernando can do that and Lewis (Hamilton) can do that. That is why the fans come to watch because you dont know whats going to happen. It was indeed my best year by a long way. I still achieved many special things and special victories - victories that were given to me and victories where I pulled away from everybody and, I have to say, did very well. There have clearly been many highlights.
Q: You frequently say that the most important thing is to improve. Where can a driver with your experience and your success improve? Is it more in terms of your psychology?
MW: Its probably simpler. I had two DNFs last season, so you have to try to finish every race. That is nearly impossible I would say, but first of all we should try to do that. I did a lot of things right and to improve I would say is by small margins. Maybe your decision-making process can be done a bit differently. not just on the track - you just have to look to be a little better everywhere.
Q: You must have relived the 2010 season in your mind over and over again. Where - or what race - was the crossroad for you?
MW: The championship could have been over in Turkey if Sebastian had won there, so I needed to keep winning. That is what kept me in the game all the way to the end. My championship could have been over much, much earlier, but I needed to win and put my case forward which happened. The team responded very well to that as it is always very special to have two guys fighting well and going for the championship. Sure, there have been challenges for the team as they were in the unique situation of having two guys running for the championship. Wed wrapped up the constructors title a bit earlier but we never liked the season going on so long in terms of the drivers championship. Coming back to the crossroads, Turkey was one, Spa was another one, as Seb had a tough weekend there, and I had a tough one in Korea. Fernandos performance with Ferrari was up and down and Lewis was coming back and going away again. There were lots of crossroads in that championship - a lot of key moments and it got sizzling with only four or five races to go.
Q: Last year you seemed to feel Vettel was favoured by the team. Now that he is the champion are you afraid that it will happen again?
MW: I think the best way for the team to perform is giving both of us the chance to win. At the moment nobody knows how Sebastian will deal with the tyres, or how I will deal with the KERS, so it would be sound to have two guys perform on a high level. Nothing should really change in that aspect. To go with one and a half drivers into a new season is definitely not a good idea if you want to win championships - constructors or drivers. If you have two guys pushing each other it is better than trying to handle the situation of only having one iron in the fire over a long season.
Q: There are now so many buttons on the steering wheel that some have suggested that the younger guys, after growing up playing on computers, will adjust better. Michael Schumacher certainly thinks so
MW: I am not Michaels age so clearly theres no advantage.
Q: A team that has two drivers aiming for the title is always under pressure and every word seems to carry more weight than usual. What have you learnt from last year?
MW: Of course you always learn from such a situation. Probably everybody does - not only the drivers. It was a new situation for us - suddenly being the pacemaker on the grid. In the end it was a very, very successful season for the team so I would say we managed all the hiccups perfectly. Of course for me I would like to have it the other way around, but it didnt happen like that. I still think I had the opportunity to be the champion, but I didnt do it because I didnt get the job done on the track.
Q: As you say it was a pretty new situation for Red Bull to be the pacemakers in both championships. Did the team need time to adjust?
MW: Of course they had to adjust. Its like going into the ocean with a nice new yacht, but sometimes the ocean can change. So you need to be flexible and adjust to what might happen. Thats what weve learnt as a team. It was a new situation for everybody in the team, from the drivers to the management to everybody on the floor.
Q: At times last season the relationship between you and Vettel seemed a little icy. How is it now?
MW: I would say our relationship is pretty good at the moment. We had some contact over the winter - not a huge amount, but enough I would say to have a good start into the season. I am not stupid and know that harmony in the team is important and the drivers play a key role in this. What is important is that we dont destabilise the team.
Q: After Abu Dhabi you went with Vettel first to Salzburg and then to Milton Keyes on his celebration tour. How tough was that?
MW: It was pretty tough. Sometimes being a professional you have to do things which are not always easy and I had to be professional in that sense.
Q: You wrote a book and some of the information in it caused quite a stir. Why didnt you keep your broken shoulder to yourself?
MW: Well, sometimes the fans are killing us because we do not give too much back and if you give something back everyone kills you as well. At the end of the day you cannot win. It was just one line in the book saying what happened and people start to make a complete meal of something that is actually not so important. It was an unreal reaction.
Q: Do you think that this could be your last Formula One season?
MW: I have felt like I do now since 2005. If I am still hungry, the desire is there and Im performing on a good level then it will be very difficult for me to not want to continue. If you have the desire and the fire to compete hard and give nobody an inch - as long as I have that I will be around a bit longer yet.
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