Mark Webber was left ruing a costly mistake in the final stages of qualifying for this weekend's F1 2010 curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir – one that left the Australian two rows further back on the grid than he should arguably have been, and with much work to do now on race day in the desert kingdom.
Having finally revealed a glimpse of Red Bull Racing's true pace in FP3 by setting the third-quickest time, Webber then went on to threaten the top of the timing screens in both the Q1 and Q2 phases of qualifying itself – but when it really mattered in Q3 and team-mate Sebastian Vettel rose to the challenge magnificently to steal pole position from under the noses of Ferrari, the New South Wales native by contrast was found wanting.
On course to join the top flight's youngest-ever race-winner on the front row, an error late into his sole flying lap in the top ten shoot-out consigned the Webber to sixth spot at the close, uncharacteristically more than a second adrift of Vettel – and far lower than he knew he should have been.
“I did my worst lap at the most important time today,” the 33-year-old confessed afterwards. “It was going well until Turn 16, but it wasn't so good from there on. Seb did a good job for pole position; there was more in the car than sixth today. It's disappointing, but all is not lost and it's a long race tomorrow.”
Those sentiments were confirmed by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, who revealed that he anticipates a typically gutsy fight back from the indomitable Queanbeyan ace once the starting lights go out to get the first grand prix of the new campaign well-and-truly underway.
“Mark was looking good in the first and second qualifying sessions,” acknowledged the Englishman, “but unfortunately he dropped a bit of time in the mid-sector of his last lap, which was the difference between the front row and sixth. I'm sure he'll be strong tomorrow.”
“It's a shame for Mark he was very quick until the last lap in qualifying,” agreed Renault engine co-ordinator Fabrice Lom, “but first and sixth is a good start.”