As his teammate Sebastian Vettel was drenched in champagne, and unconvincingly downplayed the assumption that he is assured of a fourth-successive Formula 1 title, Red Bull’s Mark Webber sat disconsolately in the garage and reflected upon yet another chapter in his story of extraordinary bad luck and lamented the quality of the Pirelli tyres on offer to F1 drivers.
The Australian has shown a repeated knack throughout his career for being in the wrong place at the wrong time and Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix may well have been the most remarkable example yet.
Having started the race with a harsh ten-place grid penalty for merely hitching a ride back to the pits after the Singapore Grand Prix, Webber had worked his way up from 13th to a creditable third place when he made his second pit stop on lap 29 (of 55 )at the Yeongam circuit.
Emerging back onto the track, Webber was trailing Sergio Perez when the McLaren’s right-front tyre blew and Webber had no way to avoid the debris, immediately picking up a puncture that sent him back to the pits again.
“The tyres are wearing a lot and they also explode a bit, but that is for Pirelli to sort out,” a philosophical Webber said after the race.
“Pirelli will put the puncture of Perez down to a lock-up but the reason the drivers are locking up is because there’s no tread left.”
It was a blow, but fitting a new set of Medium-compound tyres would have given Webber a fighting chance of a decent points finish. However he was bemused to see the team had fitted a set of the short-life Super-softs rather than Mediums.
The radio message from his engineer said: “We are in a tricky position, the plan is to try to go to the end” to which Webber radioed back “Why did we choose the options?” The sheepish answer was: “We had nothing else left mate.”
Upon resumption after a Safety Car period, Webber was charging into the turn out of the main straight when he was hit from behind by the spinning Force India of Adrian Sutil, impacting the KERS system on the Red Bull which immediately started a fire.
Webber sat in the car for a few worrying seconds as the flames engulfed the car before stepping out and watching the fire from close distance, like a barbecue in his homeland.
Asked why he took so long to get out of the car, he laconically replied: “I was trying to get the fire extinguisher out but I couldn’t. I had my overalls on.”
The ill-luck occurred on the same track where three years previously he went into the race with a 14-point lead in the championship, only to see his only chance of a title end in a couple of seconds, when he spun in wet conditions, drifted across the track and was collected by the oncoming Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.
Webber departs F1 at the end of the season to go back to sports-car racing, where he can only hope for improved fortunes. (AFP)
Subbed by AJN.