Press call Webber Malaysia Mark Webber faces the press in Sepang © Getty Images for Red Bull Racing

Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber expect the top six in qualifying in Sepang to be very similar to the top six at the Australian Grand Prix – but the Aussie points out that qualifying pace and race pace are two different things this year.

It’s bizarre to think that Mark Webber’s fourth place in Albert Park is his (or any other Australian’s) best-ever finish at the Australian Grand Prix. Moving away from the circuit where he’s cursed (this year with a broken KERS in qualifying but over the past decade with everything baring alien abduction), Mark said he was happy with the way the RB8 is developing and says he’s expecting some very interesting races this season.

Here’s what Mark has to say for himself before the Malaysian Grand Prix.

RB: Mark, what positives can Red Bull take from the first grand prix of the year?
It’s confirmation that a lot of our hard work over the winter has been extremely beneficial, particularly on Sunday afternoon, when the points are handed out. We were a lot stronger in the race than we were in qualifying, obviously we did get beaten by McLaren, but in general there were some positives in the race, some sections where the car was extremely strong and we learned a huge amount, so that was great.

RB: The final stage of the race looked quite hectic with you chasing Lewis Hamilton after the safety car period. What was it like from your point of view?
After the restart the four of us [Jenson Button, Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton and Webber] knew we were fighting for the podium. But what becomes evident very quickly is that you’re dealing with some experienced, high quality drivers. Jenson had an extremely good restart, he was very quick and obviously had good tyre warm-up. I was trying to put myself in a position to put Lewis under as much pressure as possible. I was attacking in waves really: going, then coming off then going again and trying to put him under pressure. He had a few lock-ups here and there but generally he rebuffed the challenge very well. He was the meat in the sandwich to start with. Sebastian was there as well. Yeah, so I would like to have had a slightly wider track to create a bit more pressure but in the end if you’d said I could have got a fourth place after the first lap [where Mark fell to eighth], then I probably would have taken it.


nullAustralian gold: Mark Webber at the Australian GP © Getty Images for Red Bull Racing

RB: Were you surprised by the order in qualifying?
A little bit, yes. Particularly with the Lotus, which was very strong, and the Mercedes was very pacy. And they will be again in Malaysia. Particularly early in this championship, we’ll see a difference between grid and race finishing order. It looks like some people have different qualifying pace to race pace – at Albert Park anyway – but that could be a bit of a trend for the next few events.

RB: Sepang has very different characteristics to Albert Park so will the order be shaken up this weekend?
Not really. I think the first three rows from Australia will be fighting for those positions again in KL.

RB: What’s this circuit like?
Malaysia is very, very hot, so the track temperature is very hard on tyres and that needs managing. It’s a beautiful track to drive on; you really get to feel the sensation of a Formula One car, particularly in the middle sector. It’s a great venue and has different demands to what Melbourne does, and that’s something we’ll get on top of pretty quickly.

nullMark Webber at the press conference ahead of the Malaysian GP © Getty Images for Red Bull Racing

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