Mark Webber’s Formula One career has been something of a rollercoaster ride. Despite the widespread belief that he has what it takes to be a regular frontrunner, he has had little opportunity to live up to that since joining Red Bull.
Then along came the Nurburgring weekend and a hectic race that separated the cool from the reckless. Webber excelled in the RB3, finishing third behind a McLaren and a Ferrari. As the team head to Hungary, are things looking up for the Australian?
Q: What was the secret of your success in Germany? Presumably staying calm, seizing every opportunity and, above all, avoiding a spin into the gravel…
Mark Webber: In the race, there were many moments when I had to stay cool and the biggest factor was just being able to keep the car on the track and not worry about pace. But, of course, there were times when I really had to push to make a gap between myself and the opposition and that’s where the foundations for the good result were laid.
Q: The RB3 certainly showed its capabilities in the rain. Were you surprised?
MW: I think the race at the Nurburgring was more about the drivers and staying cool, as I said. Yes, you can’t expect to win in a Spyker - you still need a quick car to get a result - but the ratio swings more in the driver’s favour because of the changing conditions.
Q: Well, congratulations on your podium - how did the world look from up there?
MW: Of course it was absolutely fantastic to get a podium. It was great to see all my mechanics and everyone from the team there to share in the podium celebrations, but I was just a bit surprised by the lack of atmosphere. I don’t know whether the crowd isn’t able to get as close to the podium as they can at other tracks, but it was quite flat. Perhaps I need to get a podium at somewhere like Monza to experience a real podium atmosphere.
Q: With your team mate David Coulthard finishing fifth, the two of you added ten points to Red Bull’s balance sheet - the team’s biggest single-race haul since entering Formula One racing in 2005. How necessary was this result, to both you and the team?
MW: To get ten points for the team at one event was extraordinary because they are very hard to come by these days. It’s great that the team now has an absolutely clear focus to beat Toyota and Williams to fifth in the constructors’ championship. We need to be around again on days like the one we had at the Nurburgring. Other examples could be Spa and Fuji, where the race could be affected by exceptional weather circumstances.
Q: You have been labeled by some as an excellent qualifier but an unlucky racer. Do you agree that you turned that around at the Nurburgring?
MW: No, not really. I’ve been happy with all my races this year as I think in terms of the lack of incidents and the pace, I’ve been the most consistent driver for the team since the start of the year to now - and I’ll continue to do that.
Q: The RB3 will be substantially upgraded for the Turkish race. In what areas will it be modified? Do you think it will help the team on their way to fifth place in the constructors’ championship?
MW: Everyone raves about upgrades, but at the end of the day every team is developing and we just take each and every race as it comes. The general development curve is always going on in the background.
Q: So we will see an essentially unchanged car at the Hungarian Grand Prix?
MW: Yes, we will use the same car in Hungary as we used at the Nurburgring.
Q: Looking back at your past races at the Hungaroring, your results have fluctuated between sixth place and retirement. What do you expect from this year’s Grand Prix?
MW: I’d be absolutely wrapped if we can score more points in Budapest as that’s our goal, along with beating those teams I’ve previously mentioned in the constructors’ championship.