Red Bull: A great win and great recovery

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB7. Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday 10 April 2011.

Mark Webber

Apr.10 (Red Bull Racing) Sebastian Vettel summed things up during the warm-down lap: “It’s hot outside, but our heads are cool.” Which went for the whole team: pitwall, mechanics, engineers and team-mate. Cool heads meant we leave Malaysia with another decent points haul and two trophies in our luggage.

While the world champion calmly drove a second lights-to-flag victory, behind him all sorts of carnage, breakdowns and bust-ups were occuring: Petrov launched his Renault so high off a kerb its landing broke his steering, five teams had at least one retirement and there was Lewis v Alonso the re-re-re-match which saw the Spaniard lose a front wing when attempting a pass on the Brit, costing Hamilton dear. Actually it cost both of them dear, as the pair were given penalties post-race which meant Lewis dropped a place to eighth.

But one of the biggest fighters of the afternoon was our own Australian. A KERS situation off the line, combined with a very tight pack going into the first corner meant Webber was pushed back into ninth by the end of the first lap. But some blinding strategy – coupled with some very determined driving – meant Mark made up the places to finish fourth.

He said: “It wasn’t a good start out of the box and we had a failure with the KERS – so I was out of position on the first lap. Anyway, I fought back with a good strategy and got some good points at least, but I was disappointed not to get the podium. It was close but not close enough.”

His team principal, while praising Vettel’s victory, also echoed Webber sentiments. Christian said: “A fantastic result for Sebastian. It was a great performance and he controlled the race in a very mature manner. The only shame was the start of Mark’s race, he had a poor initial getaway and unfortunately a KERS issue denied him its use, meaning he got swamped down to Turn One. But it was a great recovery drive with a different strategy, he really made it work and ultimately he was very unlucky to miss out on the final podium position.”

Sebastian himself said that after a good start, which was crucial around this circuit, things weren’t all plain sailing: “The entire race was quite different to what we saw two weeks ago – it was a lot closer and there were more pit stops due to the tyres. It wasn’t an easy race. I’m very pleased with today’s result. It’s been close here, so we need to keep cool and keep pushing, but the guys know this is the way forward, so I’m not worried.”

If you’re looking for a team effort, there were a total of seven completed pitstops from our boys this afternoon. And no-one dropped the ball once. No mean feat in the Malaysian heat.

As we pack for the relatively short flight to Shanghai, it’s still looking good at the top of the tables, although as everyone keeps reminding themselves, there’s a long way to go in 2011.

Car 1 Sebastian Vettel, Finish Position: Winner, Start Position: 1st
“The start was crucial. I thought it was a very good start, but then I saw Lewis lining up behind me. I was surprised going into Turn one, as all of a sudden I saw something black in my mirrors – I knew it was a Lotus. For the first stint it was a good thing to happen, as I could pull away lap by lap. The entire race was quite different to what we saw two weeks ago – it was a lot closer and there were more pit stops due to the tyres. With the stops, you don’t want to be first in, as you want to do as few stops as possible, but also you don’t want someone else to go in, get an advantage with new tyres and undercut you. It wasn’t an easy race, but in the last section Lewis had a problem and was then behind Jenson. I’m very pleased with today’s result. I love what I do and don’t think I could be happier at this stage. It’s been close here, so we need to keep cool and keep pushing, but the guys know this is the way forward, so I’m not worried. But for today we will enjoy it and be very proud.”

Car 2 Mark Webber, Finish Position: 4th, Start Position: 3rd
“It was a tough race today. It wasn’t a good start out of the box and we had a failure with the KERS, so I was out of position on the first lap. For the first three or four laps, I was trying to pass people, but they were coming back at me on the straights; it was tough to clear people when I didn’t have KERS. Anyway, I fought back with a good strategy and got some good points at least. It wasn’t our day today and I was disappointed not to get on the podium. It was close, but not close enough, But, it will come and now we go to Shanghai.”

Christian Horner, Team Principal:
“A fantastic result for Sebastian. It was a great performance, a great debut for KERS on his car and he controlled the race in a very mature manner. It was also superb pit work from the guys in the very demanding temperatures here; all seven pit stops were executed brilliantly. The only shame was the start of Mark’s race, he had a poor initial get away and unfortunately a KERS issue denied him the use of that, meaning he got swamped down to Turn one. But it was a great recovery drive from him with a different strategy, he really made it work and ultimately he was very unlucky to miss out on the final podium position.”

Cyril Dumont, Renault:
“What a race from Sebastian. It was a really solid effort and really intelligent in terms of management. For Mark it was a bit more difficult at the start, but after that it was a really solid race, so congratulations to both of them. The second race and a second win, which is a really good result. It was great for Renault too; we got three engines in the top four places, so well done to them.”