Mark Webber has again suggested that the recently imposed rule changes regarding engine mapping will not play a major part in determining the outcome of either the European Grand Prix or any of the ensuing races on the 2011 calendar.
The Australian qualified second to team-mate Sebastian Vettel
in a Red Bull
1-2 on the streets of Valencia, dampening the expectations of anyone in the F1 field that may have harboured hopes of the pacesetters having their wings clipped by the ban on variable engine maps, and insisted that he did not see any reason why the Milton Keynes-based team should not be out front in race trim.
Much has been made of the belief that the ban on maps and, from Silverstone, blown diffusers had been implemented to curb Red Bull's potential, amid suggestions that the team's qualifying performance was largely due to an extreme ECU setting that was only suitable for a couple of flying laps, but Webber said that the rumour mill - and subsequent media attention - had raised expectations well beyond reality.
"We came here and we didn't expect any difference," he insisted, "You guys wrote a lot about it, some other teams spoke a lot about it. Maybe some people in our team spoke a bit that, maybe technically, were not completely on top of things but, in the end, we've just got on with our job. We knew that, if we got it done here, it would be fair and square, not because of that. It was just a fair battle going into today and the results are a fair reflection of what happened.
"I think some teams tested [the new Silverstone
regulations] a little bit in FP1, and I don't expect there to be a huge, huge difference tomorrow, from what we've done today, in terms of the difference between Saturday and Sunday for us. We've seen in the past that, sometimes, the results can be different, and I think that could happen tomorrow, but it won't be down to [the rule changes]. If Lewis [Hamilton] wins by 50 seconds, it's not down to the exhausts regs or the fact that he can't change the differential by a bee's dick. It's going to be down to a result that probably would have happened anyway."
Although he was unable to topple his team-mate from a seventh pole of the year, Webber was the only driver to improve his time on a second run in qualifying, after the Red Bull
team worked through a brake balance issue affecting his RB7.
"It was pretty good to be honest," he noted, "You have got so many corners, you would like to put all of them together perfectly from all of your runs I suppose. But that's not the case. You have got to try and do your best to put them together when it counts.
"I hadn't had the smoothest build up into Q3, so the guys did a good job to recover with me. I knew there was some more to come on the last lap, I just had to put it all together. It still wasn't easy, but it was a pretty good lap and it was good to go a little bit quicker in the last sector to put that one together. Seb was a bit stronger in the first two but, in the end, it's a great day for the team off the back of all the talk."