Exclusive Q&A with Red Bulls Mark Webber 19 Jul 2012
Mark Webber is one of the hottest contenders for this years championship and has just rejected a possible Ferrari seat to stay with Red Bull Racing for 2013. When it comes to the reasons behind that decision, the straight-talking Australian is remaining resolutely tight lipped. Hed far rather let his driving do the talking - at this weekends German Grand Prix, for the rest of the season, and beyond
Q: Another year with Red Bull Racing. Was the colour red ultimately not as tempting as the colour blue?
Mark Webber: Yeah. I have achieved some great things with Red Bull and I want to improve my statistics even more - so that led to my decision to stay.
Q: Life at Red Bull with Sebastian (Vettel) as team mate arguably looks easier than that at Ferrari alongside Fernando Alonso and the potential politics. Did that play a role in your thinking?
MW: I am staying at Red Bull next year. Period.
Q: Can you say what was key to your decision?
MW: It doesnt matter.
Q: The talks with Ferrari. Who was talking to them? You or Flavio Briatore?
MW: Doesnt matter. Not important. Ask Ferrari.
Q: Aside from the Spanish Grand Prix, youve scored at every race - are you on a mission? A title mission?
MW: Well, we had a pretty good run. The Barcelona race was affected with qualifying decisions and a front wing loss in the race, so we lost some points there. Generally weve done pretty well at all venues - but still not the maximum. So we still have work to do to achieve better results as the year goes on and, to be honest, the championship standings look after themselves. If you get lots of DNFs the standings will be accordingly - and if you have a lot of victories its the same.
Q: Who do you see as your biggest rival?
MW: As we have seen seven different winners this year, it is open as ever.
Q: The RB8 is not as dominant as the RB7 was. Are we now talking about a drivers season in terms of talent?
MW: I think consistency at all venues in all conditions - all the challenges drivers are always faced with - is probably more important this season. My prediction is that we will see more fresh winners this year. Not just the same winners. This is because the cars are said to be pretty even this year. Maybe they are, but it certainly is one of the tightest seasons, no doubt. When I look back is it the tightest weve had, ever? I dont know.
Q: It was said that from Silverstone we would see the true pecking order emerge and surprise winners would be a thing of the past. Do the standings reflect that?
MW: I dont know. There is not a single person in this paddock who can predict whos going to win this weekend. So all you can do is do your best. There have been people struggling for form and some people who have good form - and its up to the people with good form to keep it, and for those a bit in the doldrums to come back. It is not like years gone by when you turned up with a McLaren or a Williams and go boom, boom, front row and disappear. It is not like that this year.
Q: At the start of the season the general consensus was forget Ferrari. Now Fernando Alonso is leading the championship. Is that because of Fernando or because of the improvement of the team? And where do you see McLaren in the mix?
MW: I think that the Ferrari has been a good car at the last couple of races - you also saw that with Felipes (Massas) performances. Fernando, I think, has scored at every race and my guess is that the McLaren is a bit sensitive to some circuits at the moment. But this can change very quickly.
Q: Would you have ever guessed that you could be on such a high after all these years?
MW: I already knew after the winter testing that we had a good feeling with the car. I was very happy with how I drove in Melbourne, and in Malaysia as well. Shanghai was a good race too, even though we were not winning, so this part of the season was nice medicine for me and now I need to keep the momentum.
Q: After the winter test Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said that he saw a new Mark Webber. How is that?
MW: Well, it was mainly about re-charging the batteries. At the end of last season I didnt have much energy, but the victory in Brazil was nice and a good reminder for me of why I enjoy racing at that level. Then I spent eight weeks on my skateboard - and recharged, and rediscovered my love for driving cars on the limit. That was very important. Every sportsman at the top level knows that they have to have the brains. It is not just the physical side - you also need good concentration and focus to get the job done.
Q: So how satisfied are you with your situation right now?
MW: Well, the two wins in Monaco and Silverstone - very prominent wins - felt very good. That I have settled the contract is not everything for me, but it is nice having it settled because I want to fully concentrate on the racing. I am not necessarily focusing on what will be next season, but the contract being settled brings a bit of calm in the team - and that is positive.
Q: So if all is well for you here in the team, how different is the private Mark Webber to the driver Mark Webber?
MW: Away from the track I am pretty quiet. I like to spend time with my dogs, with family and friends. I would say that Im honest and pretty straightforward. When it comes to racing I try to be as normal as possible - not being that kind of person who thinks, hey, look at me, Im a Formula One driver! I am a normal person.
Q: Does such a normal person have his own Formula One hero?
MW: Alain Prost.
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