20 Feb

Patient Webber set for another tough challenge

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

LAST SEASON Mark Webber became the first Australian since Alan Jones in 1981 to lead the Formula 1 driver’s championship. Coming into the final race in Abu Dhabi he had a chance of joining Jones (1980) and Jack Brabham (1959, 1960, 1966) as the only Australian world champions but a poor pit strategy thwarted his chances and he finished third overall in the season-long championship behind arch-rival and Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso.

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

The 34-year-old from Queenbeyan (New South Wales), who made his Grand Prix debut with Minardi in 2002, won four times in 2010, having broken through for his first (and second) career titles the previous year when finally given the chance to drive a competitive race car.

After pre-season testing in Barcelona in February, he spoke to Formula1.com about the 2011 season ahead. Excerpts from that interview…

Everybody is looking forward to the start of the season. Is the team confident?

Absolutely. And a day like today is also evidence of how well the team is operating. There are a lot of positives, but for sure we are not getting ahead of ourselves. We have some serious competition out there so we need to keep on working hard.

From your praise of the car does that mean that the Red Bull will be as strong as last year?

I truly hope so. We had an amazing year last year and we are pushing hard this season to achieve a similar goal – at least that is what we are trying to do. I am sure it will be as tough as last year as we have a lot of competitive teams around. We are all starting again from zero and they have the same opportunity as us.

(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

What did you learn from last season and make different this year?

Oh god, obviously I’ve done a lot of things right last season. You always have to keep the positives. But then you might say: you haven’t won the championship so what did I do wrong? I messed up by one fourth place so it was indeed a fine line, and I should have finished the race in Korea – that is obvious now. So what will I do different this season? Be patient and finish every single race. And believe me that is not easy.

How will it be, having to fight the world champion in your own team?

I am not only fighting Sebastian. There are a lot of other guys out there that you have to consider as well. There is Lewis (Hamilton) and Jenson (Button) and of course Fernando (Alonso). And we will miss Robert (Kubica).

From what you know now, what will be the decisive factor this season?

Reliability is always an issue. Ferrari is pretty good at that and we are also doing quite well at the moment. That is the first thing that you have to get right. Last year it hurt Seb quite a bit, so we need to get that right and then of course performance is the thing to have. But we are getting there.

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