Saturday, March 17, 2012

F1 Australian GP: That old, familiar feeling for Webber

As is often the case with Mark Webber at the Australian Grand Prix, if he didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all…

Despite the victories, the commanding qualifying runs and the gutsy performances over the last decade, the thing Mark Webber is most associated with is still that superhuman Albert Park debut race for Minardi back in 2002 in which he finished fifth.

Bizarrely that remains his best return at his home race – he was fifth for Williams in 2005 and again last year for Red Bull. In between he’s dropped out of the race while leading with a broken gearbox and suffered all manner of problems that really suggest he used up any luck he’s due around here driving for Faenza. Today the curse stuck again as Mark’s KERS seized during Q2. So, far from being disappointed with his performance, Mark actually looked pretty relaxed afterwards, having put in a storming lap to get as high as he did.

It was a case of history repeating for Red Bull who suffered the same problem in qualifying for last year’s Australian Grand Prix, though in 2011 the Red Bull KERS had precious little mileage behind it, this year the failure came completely out of the blue.

“The KERS has been faultless all winter, absolutely faultless and then we come to Q2 and suddenly we don’t have it,” said Mark wryly. “That’s the way it can go sometimes but we’re looking forward to going forward tomorrow.”

Despite believing he would have been higher up the grid with a functioning energy recovery system, Mark insisted that he did not consider a healthy RB8 to be an automatic contender for pole. “We knew there were some quick guys out there, to be honest, particularly McLaren, and Mercedes had also looked a little bit threatening in the build-up to this event,” he said.

Webber complimented McLaren on their front-row shut out but also paid tribute to compatriot Daniel Ricciardo’s efforts to get his Toro Rosso into 10th place. “He’s right in the guts of it there for some great experience tomorrow, he did a really, really good job.”

Also singled out for praise was third-placed Romain Grosjean. “I’m really happy to see him back: He had a tough time in his first year in Formula One and it takes character and guts [to come back]. He’s persevered with the categories on the fringe of F1. He’s not a guy that brings a gazillion dollars, he’s worked hard to get where he had. Of course we want to pass him tomorrow!”

RBR expect to give Mark a fully functional car for tomorrow’s grand prix and the Australian remains confident he can still do something in the race – certainly finishing fifth isn’t on his agenda. “Bloody hell, fifth again? They haven’t handed out any trophies yet – so let’s see what we can do.”

Source: Red Bull

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