It may have taken him 132 attempts to do it, but Mark Webber confessed that the wait only made his maiden F1 pole position for this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring all-the-more 'special' – as he lauded Red Bull Racing for the part they played in helping him to achieve it, and vowed to do his best to reward them with his breakthrough victory on Sunday to-boot.
The Australian paced FP1 on Friday morning, and has been a consistent front-runner from thereon in around the Eifel Mountains circuit – one where he notched up his first rostrum finish for Red Bull back in 2007, in similarly unpredictable wet/dry conditions.
Having been defeated by team-mate Sebastian Vettel three weeks ago at Silverstone – paying the price on race day for a patchy qualifying effort – it was quickly clear that the 32-year-old was in no mood to make the same mistake again on the German's home turf. After leading the way in Q1, in Q2 he was at one stage almost four seconds clear of any of his rivals, before finishing the job off with a flawless final run in the Q3 top ten shoot-out, getting the better of Brawn GP pairing Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button as well as the fans' favourite to make his own little piece of F1 history.
“This is a very special day for me,” underlined the New South Wales native. “I've been close to getting pole a few times in the past. Today we're here and the team has done a great job. We've been quick all weekend and all the teams and drivers got really tested in that session. It was very, very chaotic and to deliver the lap time when it absolutely counted was very important to me. Getting the best time is fantastic.
“The car is working very well here and I was talking to my engineer Ciaran all the time, asking him what we were doing, because the track conditions were so hard; it looked quite dry, but the slicks just wouldn't take it at all. In Q2, it was really hard to read what we needed for the last ten minutes. In the end, the key for me was three clean sectors – and that's what got me pole.
“I called on my experience, and I have a great team of people – the guys on the pit wall – making the right calls for me. They can see what the other drivers are doing. We're the best drivers in the world, and we know when people are making mistakes that it's down to the wrong tyres – so we stick to the decisions we make and believe in them and go out and do the best we can, because we know everyone's in a bit of trouble in those conditions.
“A huge thanks to all the team, both here and in the factory, and I hope that it can be my first win tomorrow. We're in a fantastic position to do it. Obviously these guys (Barrichello and Button) have had a very strong season and will push us, but we're looking forward to a fight. I'm up for trying to take my first race win tomorrow if I can.”
Webber's performance drew warm words of praise from the energy drinks-backed outfit's team principal Christian Horner and Fabrice Lom, principal track support engineer for engine-supplier Renault – both content in the knowledge that with RBR seemingly in the ascendancy over Brawn as the season heads into its second half, they have two drivers capable of taking points away from runaway world championship leader Button, not just one.
“Despite the very tricky conditions, it was great for Mark to secure his first Formula 1 career pole and it puts him in an ideal place to start tomorrow's race,” remarked Horner.
“I'm so, so happy for Mark,” added Lom. “He really deserves it – he's a good guy and a good driver. We owe him this pole position; he missed it by almost nothing at Silverstone, but here he has got it. We are very happy within Renault to be able to offer him this first pole position.”