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Webber: Rule changes won't turn F1 upside down

24 June 2011

Mark Webber has repeated his view that the impending ban on blown diffusers, due to take effect from next month's British Grand Prix at Silverstone, will not have the dramatic effect on the F1 pecking order that many are hoping for.

The decision to outlaw the technology midway through the 2011 season has been seen as a means of kerbing Red Bull Racing's apparent advantage - one which has seen Sebastian Vettel beaten to pole only once, by team-mate Mark Webber, and win five of the first seven races - and allow the likes of McLaren, Ferrari and Renault back into the hunt for race wins.

Webber, however, remains unconcerned by the changes, which will also see teams prevented from altering their engine mapping programmes between qualifying and the race in Valencia this weekend - another claimed source of RBR advantage - and says that Red Bull already has experience of tackling rule changes, such as to the front wing, apparently designed to curb its potential.

“I don't think they will make the car any faster,” the Australian said, tongue-in-cheek, at the opening press conference of the European GP weekend, “But I think it is the same for everybody. We have got to adapt again, get used to it, but it is nothing new for our team to adapt to a change in regulations.

"All the teams have to adapt and see what they can do to do the best out of it. I don't think it is going to turn the field upside down. I think everyone will still be in reasonable shape. McLaren and Ferrari are fast, we know that. We are quick but the changes, whether they will turn the championship around, I think it is unlikely.”

Webber, who has yet to win a race in 2011 - the two races not won by team-mate Vettel both went the way of McLaren - was less happy about the fact that the rule change had been effected midway through the campaign, hinting that it may have been designed to bring the field closer after RBR's runaway start.

“There's always something floating around in our sport, isn't there?" he opined, "We had the double diffuser a few years ago and now we obviously have the exhaust thing. Some people say it's right, some people say it's wrong, but it's their interpretation.

"Obviously, it's not within the spirit of the rules, so we change the rules. Obviously, it would have been very, very cost effective for all of the teams to know this before the season started, because everyone was already looking at it at the end of last year. Obviously, you look at the people from Enstone [Lotus-Renault] and those guys have done a huge, huge job, packaging their car and designing their concept around something like this working. So it's not a trivial thing to throw into the middle of the season.

"But [the teams] will all adjust. Everyone is in the same boat, [but it would be better to change it] either at the start or at the end [of the season]. In the middle, it makes it a little bit more difficult. But it's the same for everyone. We're not overly concerned. I'm not sitting here saying they shouldn't have done it, it's just that it's not a cheap exercise for people to make adjustments off the back of that."

Asked whether he felt the fans would be frustrated by the tinkering that goes on with the technical make-up of the cars, the Australian suggested that they would be more aggrieved if the quality of the racing seen so far this year was to be altered by the latest changes.

"I think the majority of the fans aren't that bothered, to be honest," he claimed, "They just want to see what they have been seeing so far this year, which is a lot of interesting car races.

"[The fans] basically have ten to fifteen per cent knowledge of what's going on behind the scenes in our sport - they just want to watch a good car race. You have really, really hardcore fans, obviously, who understand a bit more, but most people want to see a good car race, so they have no idea of the politics that go on in the background.

"They will always be there, but they're obviously making these decisions because they think it's the right thing for whatever reason it is. You need to ask the guys who are making the decisions, why they make the decisions. You design an F1 car at the start of the season to a very very, very tight, strict regulation and go through the fine print as much as you can, and then obviously there is a massive, massive conceptual change with that design book in the middle of the year.....

"That's the way it is and we have to get on with it."


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