Mark Webber has admitted that he could be at a disadvantage at the start of the Korean Grand Prix, but insists that there is a long way to go after lap one.
The inaugural race at the 3.492km Korea International Circuit is scheduled to run over 55 laps and Webber feels confident that, even if he loses out to third-place starter - and championship rival - Fernando Alonso at the start, the Yeongam venue provides enough opportunity to fight back. Alonso held provisional pole until the final minute of qualifying, when he was displaced by both Red Bull drivers, but Webber came up just 0.07secs shy of denying team-mate Sebastian Vettel a ninth success of the year, leaving him on the unfavourable left-hand side of the grid.
"I am still in a good position to start the race," the Australian told the official F1 website, "I am fully aware that I am on the dirty side of the track but, in the end, it is a long race.
"It was very close again between Seb and myself - I don't know how many times we have occupied the front row this season. It was a good fight, actually. I got the maximum out of what I had and in the end it was just a bit shy of pole position. Fernando and Lewis [Hamilton] are right there and, from what everybody had whispered about the pace of the others, I could be a lot further back than where I am."
Webber revealed that, should it rain heavily before the race, his supposed disadvantage may not be as great as predicted.
"There is rain forecast overnight so, if that happens, it will eliminate a lot of the advantage of the clean side," he confirmed, "If it rains shortly before the race, however, the right-hand side dries much quicker than the left-hand side, so the left side will not be all too pretty. If it is fully dry, yes, I expect a bit of an advantage for those on the right-hand side and I could imagine coming under pressure from Fernando right away. But that is not the end of the world because, as I just said, it is a long race. A dry race would be fine but, if it is wet, we will deal with it!"
The Yeongam circuit is a layout of two halves, with a series of long straights opening the lap and a tighter section closing it. Red Bull always suspected it would be at a disadvantage in the first part, but Webber admitted that he would have to investigate why he was losing out to his team-mate in the same area.
"I will go through the data thoroughly with the engineers to see why I have lost against Seb in sector one," he confirmed, "But it was not only Seb - we are losing against Fernando in that part of the track and Lewis is somehow off the charts, as he has a very big speed advantage there.
Insisting that there was no pact within the Red Bull team that would prevent him from fighting with Vettel after the first lap, Webber - whose only non-score of the year came in Valencia - admitted that he hope the circuit lived up to its promise of providing overtaking opportunities.
"I was just talking with Fernando, and we both agreed that, on paper, it looks quite good for overtaking, but obviously neither of us has any experience [of racing here]," he noted, "We have seen tracks in the past with similar specifications on paper, but then it didn't translate to real racing, so we will find out tomorrow.
"There is really only one line in the braking area because it is really slippery off-line. Then you have those with the F-duct, who approach the end of the straights with a very different top speed. We know that there are some who are a bit more vulnerable, we know that the McLarens and the Renaults have the best F-duct system going, so they are very strong. Let's see what develops. The first lap will be crucial, but the last lap will be the one to decide how many points you score.
"It could [all come down to strategy] - I predict that it will be a very interesting race. We will probably see all kinds of strategies, not the normal one-stop race. Or it still might be a one-stop race, but we might have some interesting tyres finishing the grand prix. I only know that I have to keep finishing at the front and I am in a good position to try and do it tomorrow. So far, I have to say that Sundays have been very good for me. Of course, I have some sensational rivals, but I am sure I will do my best to stay ahead!"