Mark Webber botched his start at the British Grand Prix, then got tagged in Turn 1 causing damage to the front wing end-plate on his Red Bull and before he knew it he was way down the order, which prompted a storming drive through the field by Australian and nearly ended in him snatching victory – adding to the two already bagged – at the very end of a drama packed race at Silverstone.
Webber spoke after finishing second in his last ever British Grand Prix.
A storming drive. You must have thought it was all over, the start didn’t go so well, tell us about it.
Mark Webber: I didn’t have a clue what happened off the line. We’ve had two or three good starts in the last few races and then the lights went out and we’re back to our normal tactics. So, I’m not sure. We need to have a look at why they pop up every now and again. That was frustrating. Then I had, I think it was Grosjean, take the front wing in the first corner, so the first stint was compromised by that. The boys did a great job to put a fresh front wing on at the stop and then we started to get the race underway from there. Obviously there was a lot of people with issues with the tyres which helped a bit but we were lucky not to have any issues. It was a clean race, good strategy. I think that, yeah I would have liked a few more laps at Nico but he deserved the win. He was quick all day, obviously. Little bit of fortune but anyway you’ve got to be there to capitalise. I’m very happy with second, team have done a good job and thanks – last time here in Formula 1 in front of the British fans – thank you very much.
You almost got him [winner Rosberg] at the end. 0.7 seconds as you crossed the finish line of a race you’ve won twice – you obviously enjoy it very much here. Great recovery though, after a poor start. Just listening to the tone of your radio messages, is it tempting to say that you feel a win got away from you today?
MW: Oh yes, it’s easy to say that. With ten laps to go when you can see the win in sight. It is mixed feelings when you finish seven-tenths behind Nico for the win. But he’s also out there doing his things, so he deserved the win. We did recover. I think we had a bit of luck after that but we’ve got to be there to capitalise on it. We had a good strategy, obviously I pushed very hard on the laps I had to do the business. The start… I don’t know. I have no idea how we can get so good some weekends and then not [so good] at others. That was a big negative for us. And then Grosjean – someone, I think it was him – touched my front wing at turn one. I had to get that changed at the first stop. And then the race really reset from there. The safety cars obviously helped – although I didn’t want them because of the reasons why they were happening. Obviously it’s very nervous for all the drivers to see that happening. In the end, very, very good result for myself, for the team, still go something out of it, what was…looked like a pretty random weekend for everyone on race day. I want to thank all the English and British fans for the support that I’ve had over the years racing here – it’s been a real highlight for me to race at this circuit. So, very much looking forward to the next race and hoping to challenge again. I was happy with my performance today.
They broadcast at least four or five messages from Rocky (Guillaume Rocquelin) to Sebastian telling him to stay off the kerbs; were you getting a similar amount of that kind of message?
MW: Yeah, Simon was keeping me up to date with the… that’s all [advice] they could give us was staying off the kerbs because they were saying that they probably didn’t really know why the tyres were failing at the rate they were. So yeah, I did what I could in all the right hand corners to have… turn one, exit of seven, also Copse and Becketts and Stowe, all the fast corners, trying to stay away from there. It’s not always easy but in general I tried to adhere to the advice, because yes, you want to gain a little bit here and there, but as Nico touched on, it’s not much fun driving a Formula 1 car on three tyres so you have to make sure that you do what you can to listen to the team; they’re on the pit wall with the most information so you have to do what they say.
You’re not the kind of guy who normally blames his equipment, less so perhaps than other people, but this story of your starts goes back a long way. No doubt you’ve analysed it over and over again. Looking back today, was it possibly a human failure on your side or was it an equipment shortcoming of some kind?
MW: I need to look. We know it’s not the strength of our situation up until Monaco. I think Monaco and Canada, same procedure and we’re running into the back of these guys. Same in Canada, I went round Bottas and we were very very strong off the line. Today, reverse was in gear. I was obviously ready for the start, everything was set, but I didn’t go anywhere, obviously. I think it was quite slippery off the line but we had a lot of issues getting away. It is frustrating, mate, but I need to go through it and we’re working on things to make it more consistent in the future, but it’s just such an important part of the weekend and it’s a no-brainer that you have to get it right, all the effort that goes in. There’s no question about it, it’s cost a lot of good points over the time but yeah, it shouldn’t be that difficult but it turns out that we’ve got to improve on that area and I’m happy to be part of that.
Nurburgring is not like Silverstone in terms of fast corners and all of that, but if somebody tells you that the same thing is going to happen, that the tyres could explode there, would you race or would you tell the people that’s enough?
MW: I think we’ve been trying to have input for the last three years and it’s [fallen on] deaf ears. Anyway, we’re part of the package, part of the show. The show goes on by the looks of it.
You were on fire from that last safety car period to the end; what was that like for you, that last stint, especially given it was your last British Grand Prix?
MW: Yeah, it felt pretty good mate, I knew that I was going to make pretty light work of the guys ahead of me because they were on old tyres. I wanted information on Nico, I wanted to know what compound he was on and how his pace was before the Safety Car because I hadn’t seen him before in the race at any stage. They said that he was pretty quick so I was pretty keen to get past those guys early and then go from there, but both of us managed to get to the end of course on the limit but also managing the scenario with the tyres. So yeah, it was a nice finish to race. It would have been about a hundred cherries on top if I’d managed to get past him but I didn’t. He deserved the win and we made him work for it which was good and rewarding, but we could have got much more out of the car in the race today to be honest.
You were asked by your race engineer after the tyre failures to stay off the kerbs; how much did it affect your racing, in particular Mark, and Fernando who had been in fights or battles with other drivers?
MW: Well, it’s a compromise. You want to still push as hard as possible but you have to check your line a bit, change your trajectory, the radius is tighter, obviously, in certain corners, i.e. the quick stuff, Copse, Stowe, turn one, staying away from there. It turns out maybe it wasn’t really the kerbs, who knows but it’s just better to factor in everything that you possibly can. Some laps, when you’re in disturbed air and you get behind a car and you get a little bit wide then that’s life, you’ve got to… you can’t be super accurate when you’re tucked up behind the guy in the quick stuff so that’s just the decisions you have to make and yeah, we managed that as best we could. (FIA-Apex)