Features - Interview
OCTOBER 7, 2010
Championship leader Mark Webber on the F1 state of play
As the championship battle heats up with the last four races of the season, we talk with Mark Webber.
Q: Why is Red Bull so strong at Suzuka?
We'll see. It should be a track we will be competitive at and we'll find out. Obviously the weather looks a bit strange on Saturday so that might not be beneficial to us but we're looking forward to seeing how the car performs.
Q: Last year the Red Bull flew in the rain. What has changed?
I think maybe subtle things have made this car a bit less competitive in those conditions. The tyres have changed, the aerodynamics have changed a lot, there was something clearly on RB4 and RB5 - even RB4 was fast in the wet - and both Seb and I were quick in Fuji in the wet a few years ago. We dominated a lot of wet sessions and races last year but this year it's not as clear for us. But I'd prefer to have a car that's quick in the dry than one just working in the rain.
Q: Do you think you were lucky in Singapore?
Maybe a bit but I'll take every bit I can get. You need it. Everyone has an element of luck now and again and it looks like I was lucky in Singapore but two years ago at that track a tram line stopped my race, so that wasn't so lucky. It's swings and roundabouts.
Q: Do you think drivers respect you more when it looks like the luck is with you?
I don't think they change their approach or style, they do their thing and you do yours. What's important is that you don't test your luck too often. It's like a base jumper. The more you base jump, eventually you might have problems.
Q: Lewis says some drivers are more aggressive and like overtaking more than others. He overtakes more than some. Is there a price you pay?
Lewis is a great competitor. I expected nothing less from him in Singapore and that's what it's about. When people try to fight into a corner and you've got a couple of guys who are pretty competitive I would say that inevitably contact can happen. Lewis, I would say, races hard and fair and that's the way we hope it continues at the front.
Q: Would you continue with that approach?
Yeah, I think you would, I think both of us would do the same thing again and go to what we thought was the right point on the limit. I'm not going to be happy to completely smash my front because I need to finish the race, and he would have been the same, but we were both in a very critical part of the grand prix, we both wanted the position and in the end I think the same would happen.
Q: Would you have taken the chance if you were him?
Probably, yeah, because it was one of the only opportunities. It puts you in a vulnerable position. We know that can happen.
Q: You have the championship lead. Can you play the percentages a bit?
That won't be enough. I need to keep racing hard and going for victories. Clearly, of course, if they have a rough weekend it makes it a bit harder, I have a bit more scope but I'm not looking to abuse that because it can go very fast.
Q: What does an 11 point advantage mean?
What is it, a fourth or fifth place? If it was the last race it would be a nice thing to have, but it's not the last race.
Q: What advantage does it bring to Alonso to have Massa backing him up when the other two teams are fighting each other?
It's certainly not a disadvantage for him.
Q: Is it unfair competition?
Hmmm. I don't think so. It's the way it's turned out for them this year as a team. Felipe didn't have a great start to the year. We've seen it once and whether we'll see it again where Fernando benefits, we'll see. They need to be on the track together for it to work. If there's cars in between, Fernando is basically on his own. That's the way it is. I don't think Fernando needs much help from Felipe...
Q: You're not worried he could hold the field up?
Then I would be pissed off, yeah, but I don't think they'll do that. That's not part of the game. What is part of the game is if where there is naturally changing positions, that's happened for a long time. But if you go back to the Irvine/Schumacher days, obviously that wouldn't be cricket.
Q: Why is it not cricket because it's a tactical sport?
No, not when you're holding people up intentionally.
Q: When you go side-by-side with one of the championship contenders, like Lewis in Singapore, do you think about the championship and weigh up the risk?
Not really. You know what's right, what's wrong, and you do your best. It happens too fast, it's the same for anyone, doesn't matter whether it's Adrian Sutil or whoever. I was with Kobayashi for a few laps and obviously that was, I'd say, more interesting than with Lewis, but I got past him and we moved on. With any of us there's always little hazards and we need to deal with them, even if it's in practice. Friday P1 in Singapore was wet and what's the point of crashing the car because that can really kill your weekend. There's lots of hazards and obviously racing is top of the chart in what can undo you in terms of points.
Q: If it's dry at Suzuka, from what you've seen in the past few races, what do you expect from Ferrari?
They weren't very quick in Turkey then they were pretty strong at Silverstone. The cars have changed massively since the middle part of the championship I think, everyone's moved forward performance-wise and Ferrari I expect to be right in the hunt here. I think all three main teams will be quick.
Q: You will like leading the championship but how do you like being favourite?
I'm not the favourite. I think we're all pretty even. It can change pretty quickly - in a good way or a bad way for me. It's on a knife-edge but I'm very relaxed. It's another race for me. I'll give nothing, leave no change on the table and do the best I can. The points will look after themselves. You need to be leading the championship at the last race, not now.
Q: But haven't the bookies got you as favourite?
Yeah, but they change like the wind. Just like the media...
Q: Are you concerned that Sebastian won here last year?
Seb winning wouldn't be the end of the world for me.