China crisis for Webber with no fuel, no wheel, no points and a penalty

Mark Webber parks at the side of the track

Mark Webber parks at the side of the track after losing a wheel

First no fuel in qualifying, then without a wheel in the race, Mark Webber ended a dismal Chinese Grand Prix weekend with his Red Bull rolling into retirement while a rear tyre bounced down the track on Sunday.

Starting from the pitlane after being sent to the back of the grid because Red Bull failed to put enough fuel in his car for Saturday’s qualifying, the Australian lasted just 18 of the 56 laps.

In that short time, he pitted twice and broke the front wing in a collision with the Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso of Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne.

The Stewards took a look at the incident and handed Webber a three grid place penalty effective at the next round in Bahrain.

Webber explained,  “The start of the race was going OK and we decided to get rid of the other tyres quickly and then regroup. But then I got to Jean-Eric [Vergne].”

Wheel on Mark Webber's Red Bull works itself loose

Wheel on Mark Webber’s Red Bull works itself loose

“I was coming from a reasonable distance behind but he knew I was there. He looked like I was going to get past him and then he went for the apex. It’s disappointing. One view looks like Jean-Eric [Vergne] is giving me the line, the other looks more like it is me. It compounds an amazing weekend for me…” added the Australian.

The afternoon was in stark contrast to the previous Malaysian Grand Prix, where he led until world champion team mate Sebastian Vettel ignored instructions from the pit wall not to overtake and denied him victory.

The feud between the team mates was the talk of the Shanghai paddock in the run-up to the race but they never came close to racing each other, let alone being in a position for Webber to exact any revenge.

The nearest it came to any drama, in a race dictated by tyre strategy, was when Vettel almost hit the loose right rear wheel as he rounded the turn 14 hairpin and found it bouncing and rolling in front of him. (Reuters)

  • Kimster

    The idiot got what he deserved

  • Steve

    “The feud between the team mates was the talk of the Shanghai paddock”

    I doubt that very much. The press did their best to to turn that nonsense story into The Scandal Of The Century, conveniently ignoring all the times Webber has ignored team orders. I don’t think anyone in F1 or any of the more knowledgeable F1 fans have been taken in.

  • Joe Kinnear

    “One view looks like Jean-Eric is giving me the line, the other looks more like it is me”

    Webber wasn’t side by side with him at that point, why did he expect JEV to give him the line? It was a tight corner anyways, and he could have waited to get to the back straight to get him. Ambitious.

  • Apex Assassin


  • jurrabi

    He simply expected Vergne to get out of his way, as Toro Rossos always do with Red Bull cars, and acted as if there were blue flags showing.

    They got what they deserve as nobody should have control of 4 cars in the grid. And Red Bull usually does.

  • jurrabi

    where are you from Steve? Germany you say? No way!

    Please man at least recognized Red Bull is Red Vetul…

  • Pitwall

    … and the Reb Bull catering staff also accidentally set fire to his sandwich…

  • Nemo

    It did look like Vergne went wide to let him through, but obviously he didnt. Maybe a little too ambitious. He has admitted it was his error, the penalty was fair. All in all it was a shocker of a weekend for Webber.

    Im not sure what Kimster & Apex are on about? (I wonder if they do either)

  • OzWatcher

    As if Verne didn’t see him. Webber was approaching like a steam train on his right, and he had been behind him for a couple of laps. For Verne not to have seen him is just not reasonable. Come to think of it, neither is believing that a team that spends hundreds of millions of dollars on technology and performance could get something so fundamental as fuel load and wheel nut torque wrong. The local 17yo midnight drag racers in Leichhardt, NSW run better outfits than Red Bull do!

  • Harper

    @ spot on Joe