Mark Webber Q&A: Red Bull not yet out of woods with KERS 05 May 2011
True, Lewis Hamilton won the Chinese race and did a great job. But one man arguably did a greater job: Mark Webber. Starting from 18th on the grid and making the podium was the sensation of the Shanghai round. It was also a welcome relief for Webber, after frustrating Grands Prix in Australia and Malaysia. Now hes hoping Red Bull can put their KERS woes behind them and return to winning ways in Turkey, as he explained exclusively to Formula1.com
Q: Mark, theres been a lot of talk about your future. Would you say that red would suit you?
Mark Webber: I always look good in red. But Red Bull is what I associate all my success with, so the only red is in Red Bull, as when I wear Red Bull colours I think of success. Any other red is just a colour in the fashion business.
Q: Coming back to the here and now, how much misfortune can one race driver swallow?
MW: Yeah, but I also managed to get a bit of luck. I managed to get a decent strategy in the last race and come back from there, so that one worked very well. Of course you can always have perfect, seamless weekends and make no mistakes from the teams or drivers side. But this is motor racing: things can change very fast and I hope we can look for a clean weekend on Saturday and Sunday.
Q: How much are you at odds with the word strategy? It seems to have let you down significantly so far
MW: In terms of car preparation the guys have worked extremely hard. The car is not easy to work on if we do have a problem, because if there is a problem they need a huge amount of hours to solve them, particularly the KERS. We know KERS is a challenge for everybody and it had put us a bit on the back foot at some races, but Ive still managed to work as hard as I can and get some results out of it. When I have a smooth, beautiful, clean weekend with the car we should get a good result. Hopefully.
Q: What is the situation with KERS right now? Still a bit on the back foot?
MW: We are not out of the woods completely. The guys are working incredibly hard on it, but it will take time. There is a good chance that every race we learn ten or 15 percent more. Lets say we are at 70 percent now, so lets hope come the next few races we are all clear.
Q: Your China race was a sensation. It seemed that you pulled out all the stops and drove in a make-or-break fashion
MW: Yes, thats what I enjoy at the moment: racing flat-out. Looking at the tyres and all that is part of the game now, but probably not an enjoyable part because we want to drive the car on the limit and push the boundaries - this is what Formula One is all about: pushing the boundaries to a complete limit for the drivers and the engineers and the car design. I hope to do a bit more racing like that in the future.
Q: Was that what you did in Shanghai: not focus so much on tyres and the other factors you would normally consider when starting from the front - because you had nothing to lose and everything to gain?
MW: Interesting question. It was a unique Grand Prix. You come to certain crossroads in the race and we just made the decisions as they happened when probably in a normal race the strategy is more agreed from the very beginning. We made the right decisions on that day. My engineers made my job very easy because they came up with the perfect strategy for that situation. I was lucky.
Q: How important was that race? Was it liberating?
MW: Well, it was good, but of course also a bit frustrating. It would have been nice to have a normal race from the front of the grid. Saturday was quite frustrating - that we were out of position by that much - but we recaptured it with a sensible race. Of course I would have liked to do the whole race from the front - and I am planning to do that this weekend: be at the front!
Q: Has anything changed for you, driving in the same team as the reigning world champion?
MW: Its the same guy.
Q: Many of todays Formula One drivers seem to look back nostalgically to an era when there was more camaraderie between them. But camaraderie is a question of personality rather than environment, so why did it die, if indeed it has?
MW: Well, there are several things you can look at. Warmth between the drivers is always a difficult thing to have. When you look back to the 1970s when drivers did get killed, there was much more respect among them, so there was much more camaraderie. Now there is less camaraderie because we do see less of each other. Now we have these motor homes and are locked away: we go to the car, we come back and then go home. You might argue that we - the drivers - can change that. If I want to talk to Fernando (Alonso) and go to the Ferrari motor home, what happens then? Exactly: rumours. Then we are in trouble. So that makes it all quite difficult. The sport has changed. Nowadays any rumour gets around the world in seconds - thats when it gets difficult. Sure we drivers could do more, but on the other hand there are little things that I would like to have. Remember years ago there was a flag for the winning driver on the in-lap. That was beautiful. It was always a great moment to watch Ayrton Senna with the Brazilian flag and Nigel Mansell with the Union Jack. It was a good message for the sport and the fans - and it looked great and showed passion. Now the winning procedure is to take off the helmet, hurry on to the podium, hurry off the podium - boom, boom, boom - and then we go home.
Q: If you analyze it, what has had the biggest impact on racing this season: tyres, moveable rear wing, KERS - or the need for a more sophisticated strategy?
MW: Tyres, 100 percent. KERS is invisible. The rear wing has done a bit, but I would say that tyres are 60 percent, rear wing 30 percent and KERS 10 percent.
Q: The last two years youve been on the podium here in Turkey, so the track goes well with you. Well enough for another top-three result?
MW: Yep, I hope so. Ive done a couple of good races here and I hope I can go along this line again.
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