Mark Webber has a sparkling history at the Monaco Grand Prix, and is pretty handy around one of the most challenging venues on the Formula 1 calendar. The straight talking Red Bull driver summed up his afternoon at the principality where he finished third.
Fourth in the opening stint but obviously the safety car at the first stop gave you and the team the opportunity to jump ahead of Hamilton. Important moment for you?
Mark Webber: Yes. First of all, congratulations to Nico. It’s a very special place to win at so, yeah, he had a seamless weekend and that’s what you need to do here. It’s never easy when you’re leading, you still have to pull it off. So, well done to Nico and Mercedes. For us, we knew it was a little against us starting on the second row but got an absolutely incredible start – and sod’s law it’s the shortest run to the first corner so, I think Seb and I had nowhere to go really so we were lifting. It’s looking like Nico and Lewis had pretty tricky ones, so we’ll try to save some of those starts for future reference. And then after that it was just basically saving tyres and making the one-stop work. It was completely predictable that if the race was going to stack up then the two-stop was not really an option to come back into traffic. So we had to go very long, all the drivers were nursing the cars very aggressively and as you say, it was nice to get Lewis. Obviously it’s never nice to lose positions around the stop so I’m sure he’s not too pleased with it but in the end we’ll take that position. It was difficult to get the restarts going on the primes but in general just really driving around, saving the tyres and waiting for the chequered flag.
There were quite a lot of incidents in the race, obviously a couple of safety cars, red flags. Some drivers were making passes today but did it feel very touch-and-go, very marginal out there to you?
MW: To make moves? Yeah, I think so. Especially when you’re with the guys I was with today, very experienced and they know what they need to do and where to put the car so, unless you had a big discrepancy in tyre performance, like I did after my pitstop – I had to clear Nico Hülkenberg pretty quick and try to make that undercut work a little bit – but in general after that, as the guys have touched upon, it was measured, controlled aggression, if you like, trying to nurse the tyres as best you can. It became very, very obvious early in the grand prix that the tyres were going pretty well. Obviously the pace wasn’t electric and, fair enough, that’s how… you can do that if you’re at the front of the race, as I did last year, so you can do that. And when the options were starting to go that far – the supersoft – the one-stop started to become viable for everybody and that’s why it probably wasn’t a super-exciting race today for the fans. But even if it was two-stops, it would probably have just been a bit more action around the pitstops and obviously not much on circuit because that’s the sort of track it is.
Before the red flag, Lewis got right up alongside you at Rascasse. What happened, did he maybe catch you by surprise there?
MW: No, I was probably just saving my tyres a bit too much and yeah, he was going for a little bit of a surge also, I think. They were probably a little bit more comfortable on the primes in certain performance areas of the circuit and also the car characteristics, so, yeah, he was a little bit more comfortable on that section of the track. I was also just… we knew we had a long way to go in the race and also I had four or five laps less on my tyres, because I did the undercut on these guys. I had to give him room. I think experience helps in those scenarios. I thought he might tap me… I could just see him in the mirror. I thought ‘mmm, he’s in there somewhere’ but I had to give him the room and then thank God we got round Rascasse together somehow. I think that was probably not that straightforward. Not possible for GP2 drivers but us boys managed to pull it off which we should be able to so it was a rewarding little battle.
Do you have an opinion on this secret tyre testing, whether it had any impact, and whether you think there was any advantage to Mercedes having done the testing?
MW: That’s a fair question. I think we were probably a little bit surprised that it happened. I don’t think it probably had a huge bearing on today’s result. I think their car was always going to perform pretty well round here, to be fair, but yeah, you can’t unlearn what went on at the test obviously, so we need to see how the test came about and whether it’s within the rules or not. I’m sure Mercedes thought it was OK, so that’s why they did it, so time will tell. But I don’t think it affected today’s result.