Mark Webber failed to make it into the qualifying shoot-out for the first time in over a year but he believes he can still make good today…
Mark Webber’s impeccable qualifying record ground to a halt at the Circuit de Catalunya yesterday after he fell short of the time required to progress into the third phase of qualifying. With time running out and the Red Bull Racing driver holding sixth place, he decided to stay in the garage. But in the final minutes the temperature dropped, times spiralled downwards, and Mark was pushed down the order to 12th.
“It was a bizarre session,” said Weber. “ We knew it was going to be tight – we didn’t use the prime tyre in Q1 because it wasn’t going to be fast enough. That wasn’t what we were expecting. We have all the data from last year and we thought the track would improve by two or three tenths maximum through Q2. Today it was eight tenths.”
Mark acknowledged that the car was capable of a much better qualifying time but by electing to stay in the garage he missed his chance. “We could have run again, or had a bit less fuel in the car, but ultimately we did what we did. It should've been enough but the track got too quick and a lot of other people got quicker on it. We underestimated that and got caught out.”
The last time Webber failed to make Q3 was at the Chinese Grand Prix of 2011, where he eventually stormed through the field to finish third. Then, like now, he went into the race with the advantage of fresh tyres – the same advantage utilised by Kimi Räikkönen in Bahrain three weeks ago. Kimi saved his option tyres for the race and, starting 11th, raced through the field, picking off all those struggling with old tyres used in qualifying. Sebastian Vettel held him off to win Red Bull Racing’s first grand prix of the year, but Kimi made him work for it.
Webber acknowledges that squirreling away a couple of sets of fresh tyres will help him tomorrow, but he played down his chances given the historic difficulty of overtaking in Spain. “There are some positives, and when you have a situation like this you obviously have some tyres to use. But this place isn't Bahrain in terms of overtaking. We need to get a good first lap and then make ground when the DRS operates."
“We saw in China [two races ago] that even in the last five laps there’ll be people having trouble with tyres. You can come back and make something from that. That’s what we’ve got to be mindful of. We’ve got to keep boxing all the way through and every lap has got to be clean and tidy. There’s going to be massive marbles in the race that you’ve got to stay away from. And you just have to keep pushing."
“We’ve got to get through this one and have better weekends in the future. A lot of unlikely suspects are going to be looking for points tomorrow, so that’s not too bad for us. Ultimately, though, we need to be getting good points ourselves.”
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