Red Bull’s Mark Webber was very much in the spotlight in China last weekend, though not for the reasons he would have liked. A pit-lane start after a refuelling error in qualifying was followed by a collision with Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne and an unlikely retirement when a wheel came off his RB9. And all the time the rumors swirled about what he may or may not be doing next season, in light of his recent ‘disagreement’ with teammate Sebastian Vettel. Surely the only way is up in Bahrain this weekend…
Q: Mark, after the rollercoaster ride you’ve been through in the last few weeks, you get a three-place grid penalty for this weekend…
Mark Webber: I think these days they always have to do something. Whenever there is an incident there has to be some form of investigation – and a penalty. For me I have to say as I was the guy on the passing move so the majority probably goes on me, but Jean-Eric looked as if he was cooperating initially – and then he moved back and we’ve made contact. If he would have given more room we would have gone through there together, but unfortunately both of our races were ruined with a pit stop for me that wasn’t going well.
Q: It is fair to say that it is very difficult to be more unlucky than you’ve been – so what are your expectations for the next three days?
MW: Haha, tell me about it! I hope so! China was going so well up until qualifying – Q2 – and then literally the wheel fell off. After that it was a tricky weekend and pretty frustrating. Up until Saturday afternoon the team did a fantastic job giving me a car to be fast and in regards of the reliability problems they will be addressed very quickly – and we are going forward from there.
Q: So what are your expectations for this weekend?
MW: I think we should be pretty quick here, but I also expect that we will have some strong opposition – as we had at the first three races. In Melbourne, Malaysia and China we had different people being quick and have seen tight races. For us, as I just said we should be pretty strong here – whether it is enough to have a more comfortable scenario as we did in Malaysia in terms of pace remains to be seen. Remember Kimi (Raikkonen) qualified 12th last year and nearly won the race – so it seems everything is possible these days.
Q: China seems to have been a pretty tough race for the fans to understand what was going on…
MW: Yes, it was. It was all about tires, strategy and in the end who was first to approach lap 56. Here I predict that the tires will still play a massive role, so hopefully the fans will get a bit better understanding of what they are looking at.
Q: There have been many rumors about your future. What’s the truth about these?
MW: I have made it clear in China that I have not made any plans of my future and you can ask anybody in my camp if we do know what I am doing next year – we don’t!
Q: We all have heard that you went out for dinner with Fernando Alonso in Dubai. How would you describe that social get together?
MW: It was good. We catch up two or three times every year – so nothing special. I have known Fernando for 13 years. Probably this weekend I will go out with Jenson (Button). You know the drivers can go out and socialize! There is no need for all that paranoia.