Webber: Lapping Schumacher felt good
1 August, 2010
Aug.1 (Grand Prix 247) Mark Webber was the unexpected winner of the Hungarian Grand Prix at Hungaroring in Budapest. His team mate Red Bull Racing team mate Sebastian Vettel was hot favourite, but the script did not go according to his plan. Webber instead won the race making it four wins for the Australian this season. He now leads the World Championship. He spoke at the FIA post race press conference, here are the highlights.
A commanding win by the end of 70 laps. But it was probably the 43 you managed in your first stint that really set it up.
Mark Webber: Yeah, that’s right. The start we always knew was going to be a little bit tricky on that side. Fernando got a good start. Seb’s was pretty good as well. But we all jumped into the slipstream in the run to the first corner and then I had Lewis (Hamilton) there as well, so had to make sure to at least get out in third position. If not, see what happened in front. Then settled in. You know around here it is going to be very difficult to make any moves on the track unless anybody made a mistake, so it was not a surprise to see Seb disappearing with Fernando doing his absolute best but I was still marking him and waiting for the crucial part of the race to see what would happen. That being the pit stop. Then we had the safety car and I had to go off strategy to try and pass Fernando and make it a bit easier to try and do that. But we were asking a lot of the option tyres. You are right, building from safety car through to when we decided when to make the stop we knew that we needed around 20 seconds but I told the guys ‘let’s get a bit more of a buffer to make sure the guys have less pressure in the pit stop.’ All those types of things. But they were on it anyway. The front left was completely finished, it was pretty difficult with the grip that we had finishing that stint. But in the end, I knew once I got the primes on, these guys had already done 20 odd laps and the race was pretty much in the bag. I knew that Seb had some difficulties on the re-start for whatever reason and it was a bit of a gift to day for me. But I have not had many of them, so I will take today’s. Tough luck for Seb as he lost a couple of spots. I enjoyed the fight with Fernando at the start. Not much of a fight but as I was saying I was just trying to get the most out of the car and keep pressing on and we were gapping Felipe (Massa) and Lewis. But an incredible day for the team. Another victory. One-two was our goal. Unfortunately we didn’t get that, so we still got a big chunk of the points, so it was a good day.
Not a bad way to celebrate your 150th grand prix and we heard you say on the team radio when you lapped Michael Schumacher ‘boy that felt good.’
Mark: Well, you know he did it a lot when I was in the middle of the field. A calibre of Michael, a driver like him, you know that you need to get everything right at this level. Credit to the team. Everyone pulling together. To lap someone of Michael’s quality is a good day out, so it is not rubbing anyone’s nose in it, it is just a unique thing to happen.
You go into the summer break now as the man leading the World Championship. How much does that mean to you and how much does that spur you on for the return when we come back to racing in Spa?
Mark: The victory is good. To maximise your opportunities is always good irrespective of what happens to your rivals. Not getting ahead of ourselves. We’ve still got some big events coming up. They all dish out the same amount of points, but all of them will provide different challenges for us as a team and technically for the cars. It is nice to have a few more points than other people, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Looking forward to the break for sure. Very, very timely. But two sensational venues to finish the European season off in Spa and Monza, so looking forward to them. Spa we all love driving there, so looking forward to going there.
So you managed to stay awake this afternoon then?
Mark: Ha, ha, yeah. The first stint I thought ‘here we go.’ Budapest all over again. All of us have followed many cars around this track for the duration of the race. The start was pretty much standard, probably what we expected. It was going to be very, very difficult for me to pass Sebastian off the start. It was always damage limitation. Fernando got a very good start and was straight in behind Seb and then we settled into the first stint. It was totally obvious that Seb would start pulling away. Fernando was driving on the limit and trying to pull away from the other guys within reason for his first stint. I was just waiting for the stop or the part of the race where we could try to do something about Fernando and make an extra position and get our grid position back. Then there was some debris out of turn 11. The safety car was deployed and we had to go off strategy, to do something different to the Ferraris. Not a massive gamble, but not without its risks. We knew the option tyre was pretty sturdy but I still had to find the limit of driving flat out but without going off the edge. If you lose either end of the car I would not have had enough of a gap over Fernando. I needed to pull over 20 seconds to him and the front left tyre was not enjoying the last 10 laps for sure, particularly in the last corner. I was pretty happy with the way I drove there. I knew I needed to put some decent, consistent, solid laps in and pick the back markers off. Fernando would be coming across then too. All those facets are very important in the race. Once we got the gap it made it more comfortable for the boys in the pit lane. I was very conservative for the whole thing, got the stop done and then went back out on the primes and controlled the race from there.
You mentioned it was a bit of a gamble. You must have had a very short time to decide as you were one of only two top drivers who stayed out. Otherwise everybody came in.
Mark: Yeah, you would have to ask our strategy guys that. We didn’t have much time. Seb and Fernando, particularly Seb had the least time out of all of us, then Fernando and all of a sudden I was thinking when they told me to ‘stay out, stay out’ coming out of turn 13 and then we come to the pit lane I said ‘come on Fernando please pit, please pit, pull off, pull off.’ At least then I could try something. He pulled into the pit lane and I thought now I have to get a stop back in the race at some stage of the race. It was pretty much the obvious thing to do having been put in that situation, but for someone like me who probably had a bit of a pace advantage we could try to do something different, so it worked out okay.
I guess the victory is pretty unexpected, isn’t it? You were one of the quickest cars.
Mark: Yeah, unless Seb had a technical problem. He was on pole and he was leading the first stint and unless he makes a mistake or has a problem it is probably going to be his race. Second was certainly on the cards for me. But this is racing and sometimes it happens. Most of my other victories haven’t been gifted to me. Today I gained one position. Tough that Seb lost two positions but obviously in the Constructors’ we lost a few more points through that mistake on the radio or whatever. Look, I am not sitting here complaining. You have got to take them when you can get them. I still had to do the job today. It is a pretty long race and it is easy to not always get it right but we did today.
A lot of talk this weekend about flexing front wings. One rival team reckons it’s worth almost a second a lap. Tell us about your front wing, how good is it as part of the overall package of the car?
Mark: Yeah, I think it’s at least one second, if not two! It’s like the adjustable front ride height control! It’s like everything else which constantly comes up. Our guys have broken their balls to design a car in the spirit of the regulations, and every time we are tested by the FIA, we pass. The car has always been passed by the FIA, so when people don’t like (what they see on) the stopwatch, they have to justify their own positions in some other teams sometimes, and when there’s pressure on people to perform and they’re getting destroyed, that’s how it is. McLaren have had a great year, if that’s one of the teams that… I’m happy obviously, but they’re a few points off, they’re still right there. Some teams have done certain things, other teams have done other things. They incorporated the F-duct which is a sensational idea. We’ve turned the world upside down to try and do that which is not without our resource difficulties. That’s Formula One. We’re more than happy with what we have on the car and we’re sleeping well at night, the guys, when they have inspections from the FIA that we’re doing enough. You should never penalise things that are ingenuous and people that are doing a good job, and that’s sometimes the case. Not about this particular part, but the whole concept of the car. If you have a slightly different concept here and there… The blown diffuser was all of a sudden worth four seconds a lap. It depends what week you’re talking about. There’s always something new to bring out of the cupboard. The reason our car is quite good on these sort of tracks… we’ve been looking for engine parity for the last few years. We know we don’t have the most powerful engine. When we go to a track where there are not many straights, the car is good because we’ve had to try incredibly hard to get the car performing in this type of situation, so we would love parity with the engine. Other teams sometimes want everything, but we need parity on the engine and then it would be a fair game and that’s all we want, again, is similar horsepower to other teams and this is another example, when you go to different venues like here, we see who has a nice car. It’s not a one way street with this stuff you know.
When you decided to go for this strategy, to stay on the track with the softer tyres for so many laps, did you have references about the tyre wear because today was the hottest day of the weekend?
Mark: Yeah. No we didn’t, is the answer to your question. It’s impossible to do a 42 lap run on Friday. We had a pretty good idea that the tyre might be OK but as always, we found in Canada and a few other places sometimes you might have a surprise. We were pretty optimistic that we wouldn’t get a surprise to be honest, and that we could do enough, but if the tyre still starts to go away, then I have a crucial point in the race where I cannot get the gap to Fernando, and then it would not have worked. So what was important was that I kept the rhythm, I kept the pace very high, but without killing the tyre but in the end I don’t think there was much left of the front left. It was completely finished and that was the balancing act I had to do, so there was a sensational job from the team, they got it right and it was good.