Q&A with Red Bull's Mark Webber 08 Apr 2011
While his home Grand Prix in Australia last month didnt go quite to plan, Red Bulls Mark Webber ruled the roost in Malaysia on Friday, setting the pace in both the morning and afternoon practice sessions. He reviews his opening day at Sepang and evaluates his chances for Sundays race
Q: Last year Red Bull enjoyed a strong race in Sepang. You came second and your team mate Sebastian Vettel won. Could the team enjoy another one-two this year?
Mark Webber: Yes, I do have good memories of the 2010 race. The Malaysian Grand Prix always holds many surprises in terms of the weather so you have to be alert. We were pretty much in control of the race last year and I hope we can do it again.
Q: Your car seems to be performing better than it did in Australia last month
MW: Yes, my engineers had a look at the car because what happened in Melbourne was rather strange.
Q: Rumour has it there was something wrong with the set up
MW: Yes, we had a few issues with the set up, but that is water under the bridge now.
Q: At the end of the race, you pulled over. Were you running out of fuel?
MW: Well, yes. But we stopped the car for some other reasons as well.
Q: What did you learn in Melbourne about tyre strategy?
MW: Well, you always learn from the first race. Unfortunately I learnt a lot. If I want to challenge those who were on the podium I need to be on the same strategy as them. I wasnt, so I have to address that. The conditions are completely different here than they were two weeks ago, so you have to collect as much information as you can. The tyres will be crucial and again nobody knows how they will really work under these hot conditions or if theres rain. I am definitely out here this weekend to improve on my fifth place from Melbourne. Be sure about that.
Q: Is there any reason why Red Bulls rivals should be closer this weekend than they were in Australia?
MW: I think we will see pretty much the same picture. We will be pretty competitive here - thats my guess. If you look at McLaren, theyve not had the easiest time in winter testing and then they came out strong at the first race. Ferrari should also be competitive. Mercedes and Renault it is early days, so who would really dare to step forward and pretend to know what is going to happen over this long season?
Q: In terms of your morale, how much do you need a good result here?
MW: Oh, look at me I havent been sleeping since the first race and I am a shadow of my former self! (laughs) It was the first race and I finished fifth, so what are you talking about?
Q: It was the first race, but arent there memories of last year when you couldnt get ahead of Vettel?
MW: Thats not true, I beat him fair and square several times. And yes, he was driving well, thats why he won the championship. The fact is that 2010 held a lot of positives for me and we know that there are very fine margins when you compete at this level, so in reality results can fall either way.
Q: Coming back to this weekend, Friday was a pretty good start for you even if the margin to McLaren team mates Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton and Vettel are pretty slim
MW: Yes, it was a good day for me. And believe me - I will do everything to have that kind of gap until Sunday.
Q: What about KERS? Will you use it on the car this weekend?
MW: We need to use it, as we need to have race finishes with it, so we will try it here again. Whether we run it on Sunday or not, we will decide in the next 24 hours.
Q: What about the tyres?
MW: So far it went well and everything seems to be solid. What I probably have to focus on is pit strategy. The three guys on the podium in Australia only pitted twice, whereas Fernando (Alonso) and myself were on three-stop strategies.
Q: Is there a chance of seeing drivers stop four times here?
MW: No, I dont think so. But we will do as many stops as necessary. Pirelli said that we could end up with four, but my guess is maybe three stops.
Q: Red Bull still seems to be the pacesetter. Will that be the case on Sunday?
MW: The car is fantastic and I probably didnt get the maximum out of it in Melbourne. But this is a new race and a new chance. As I said at the beginning, I learnt a lot two weeks ago and I am pretty confident that Sunday will be different. In a positive way.
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