Mark Webber was an angry man at the end of qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, after the Red Bull Racing star found himself forced out of Q1 when he was baulked by Adrian Sutil on his final flying lap – an 'absolute disaster' that the plain-speaking Aussie claims has left his race 'screwed'.
Much like Sebastian Vettel, Webber headed into this weekend with his tail up and confident of adding to Red Bull's tremendous breakthrough success in the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai six days ago, but whilst his young German team-mate would go on to line up third on the grid – a fuel-corrected pole position – the New South Wales native will have to take the starting lights from the penultimate row down in 18th.
The incident occurred as Webber was travelling down the back straight on his last 'hot lap' – one that needed to count if he was to progress on to Q2. On his own 'out' lap, however, a moment of inattention and 'big confusion' saw Sutil's Force India wander across his path – a transgression for which the man from Starnberg would subsequently find himself penalised three places from what would have been his highest starting position of the season so far [see separate story – click here
], but one that had altogether greater ramifications for his 'victim'.
“I had traffic in the last corner and therefore wasn't quick enough to go through,” Webber explained. “I don't usually get caught out with that problem and that was the worst place to get nailed, as it wrecked both my flying laps.
“I had nowhere to go in the last corner of my first lap and then Sutil slipstreamed past me for the start of my second, so it was an absolute disaster. Q1 is the worst session to have had that problem, as now we're at the back for tomorrow – my race is screwed.”
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner shared his driver's 'bitter disappointment' over the incident, contending that 'both drivers (Webber and Vettel) should have been up at the front today, which is really frustrating', whilst engine-supplier Renault's principal track support engineer Fabrice Lom retained hopes that after 'a great weekend' to-date, the man from Queanbeyan will nevertheless be able to 'bounce back' come race day.
Sutil, for his part, was contrite, commendably making a point of heading to the RBR motorhome afterwards to offer his apologies, and reasoning that he had merely been trying to create a gap for his own flying effort and had mistakenly believed Webber was on an 'out' lap at the time.
“It was tricky,” the 26-year-old contended. “I was just concentrating on the car in front of me. [Fernando] Alonso slowed down a little bit to have a clear run, and so did I. I was just trying to have a normal gap to the car in front.
“I saw Webber in my mirrors but I thought he was also on an 'out' lap and trying to do an open lap, so I defended my position and had to overtake him again on the straight at the start of my lap. It was a big confusion – I just didn't know what to do.”