Mark Webber has described his victory in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona as 'very special' and as memorable and satisfying as his first in F1 in the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring last year, as the Red Bull Racing star proved to be uncatchable and arguably staked his credentials as a genuine title contender.
Having lapped out of reach of any of his rivals in qualifying for his second pole position of the F1 2010 campaign – defeating team-mate Sebastian Vettel by just over a tenth of a second as RBR turned the session into an entirely internecine scrap well clear of any other team – Webber got the jump at the start of the race and was never again headed, comfortably stretching his legs from firstly Vettel and later Lewis Hamilton, and winding up with a commanding 24-second advantage over Fernando Alonso at the chequered flag after both of his immediate pursuers hit trouble.
“[I'm] absolutely rapped,” he enthused. “After qualifying, it was certainly a great position for us to start the grand prix in. I had to work very hard, and it was a crucial pole. I felt very good in the car. We knew it was a long run to the first corner here and we had some pretty quick cars behind us in terms of top speed, so it was very important to get out of Turn One still in the lead.
“It was quite tight and we had a good battle going into there, and then I just settled into a rhythm really in the first stint, looking after the tyres and making sure we got the 'Option' through as everyone is still learning, venue-to-venue, about how the tyres might operate. It is a very heavy car in the first ten-to-15 laps and you want to be careful you don't bite off more than you can chew. We had a pretty good idea the tyres would behave themselves, but you never know. We just made sure they were in pretty good nick and finished the stint in a good fashion, which they did.
“The car wasn't easy at the start; some laps I wasn't particularly happy with the laps I was doing – you always think you can get a bit more – but [the lead] was still stretching as I think Seb was having similar problems. It's always nice to see the gap going away; that gave me good confidence from there, and off we went.
“I had Seb with me [before the pit-stop], and then after the pit-stop I had Lewis behind me, and we just controlled the gap really – just picking my way through the traffic and looking after the car, engine and tyres as the grands prix are pretty long and you need to get the cars home. Then we could just pace the car to the end. We had a faultless weekend, and the race was a very well-executed grand prix. The driver did his little bit of work too, and in the end it was a fantastic result and I am absolutely thrilled.
“The team have been incredible, getting the cars ready [with] long, long nights and an incredible amount of effort at the factory. Collectively, Renault and Red Bull have put a sensational effort in. It started, really, on the way back from Shanghai. A lot of people were out-of-position for a long, long time; that probably didn't affect our team, but there was a bit of a knock-on effect of people being stuck out there behind schedule, getting back into the rhythm, into the factory with the race team and factory-based people getting going.
“There were some astronomical hours really; there was a Bank Holiday Monday a few weeks ago, and they were in, preparing the car, and after hours. Okay, maybe every team is doing it, but people were telling them to do things and they were not even questioning it. It's just boom, boom; everyone is on the same channel, pushing hard.
“Then trackside this week, Kenny [Handkammer, chief mechanic] was on the podium; he's been in Formula 1 a long time and it was nice to have him up there for the first time. He's won many, many races as the chief bolt [mechanic], him with his soldiers and his boys and the hours that he's done. It's good that we're obviously run by Red Bull because I think it keeps the guys awake – their eyes are popping out of their heads because of the hours that they've done! That was a special effort. Okay, Seb didn't have a clean race and could have been second, but there were no mistakes on the cars even though they're under stress. That was good.”