Mark Webber has praised the way his Red Bull Racing team handled the contentious rule change roller-coaster regarding engine and diffuser settings in the early part of the British Grand Prix weekend, allowing him to concentrate on claiming a second successive pole on the new Silverstone 'Arena' layout.
Red Bull, along with the other Renault engine users found their engine settings being changed almost by the session through the three free practice sessions that preceded qualifying but, despite appearing to have been handed a disadvantage when the RB7's off-acceleration throttle opening was returned to ten per cent on Saturday morning, still managed to lock-out the front row of the grid, with Webber getting the better of team-mate Sebastian Vettel for only the second time this season.
Team principal Christian Horner and technical chief Adrian Newey had a showdown with FIA race director Charlie Whiting as free practice three started but, following a hastily-arranged meeting of the Technical Working Group, agreed to abide by the latest directive from the governing body, but Webber insisted that, despite some uncertainty over the set-up of the car, the drivers had been shielded from the controversy and allowed to focus on doing their job on track.
"I think the team has handled it pretty well," the Australian confirmed, "Seb and I have concentrated on the driving, otherwise it gets very, very boring. But it is not new for our team - adjustable front ride height controllers, front wings, whatever..... every year, we have a new thing to talk about. This last few weeks it has been about this. Let's hope everyone can find a common ground.
"It is incredibly boring also for the fans. I think they cannot understand 0.1 per cent of what's going on. Even for us, it is sometimes difficult, so let's get on with the racing. Keep the rules as simple as possible from the start of the year maybe, and go from there."
Webber denied, however, that the continued dominance of qualifying was any sort of riposte from Red Bull to the rule makers.
"We are not looking to reply to anything," he insisted, "What has to be re-iterated is that the last three years our team has virtually turned up very, very early and left very, very late. Every team in this pit-lane works hard, but our team works incredibly
hard. We worked with the RB5, RB6, RB7, whatever, to concentrate on that and that's what we have done for the last few years. What is happening in the last few months is not what we've done in the last few months, it's years of hard work to put ourselves in this position technically.
"It is a subject at the moment that is topical - we have it had each year, but not maybe as heavy as this one - but we have seen today that we are still going okay. Irrespective of lap times, it is all about interpretation of rules and regulations and principles and how you go forward, competing under the right guidelines. Whether we are on pole or tenth, the team will still continue to have its stance on what they think is correct, but it is not a comeback what we did today - at all."
The was speculation in the paddock after the TWG meeting that Ferrari may just have come out of the diffuser row most favourably, and the Scuderia duly locked out the second row behind Webber and Vettel. With both Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa making rapid getaways in recent races, the red cars could pose a threat to the Red Bulls, and Webber remained cautious when asked about his team's chances of winning on Sunday.
"I think we are still very, very, very good, but the red cars might have done a little bit to come closer today," he conceded, "If you look at just today - not tomorrow, but just today - we look like we're still performing at a very, very high level. Ferrari haven't been slow today, so there might be a bit of form card starting to build for the future, but we obviously need more events to see if that's possible. The cars are very sensitive to lap time at the moment - the tyres, all that sort of stuff - and it wasn't a normal preparation for qualifying in some ways, so let's see how we are in the next two events.
"It is always difficult [to tell how much the car has changed] from track to track unless we do proper back-to-backs. We had not a bad chance this weekend because the rules changed, especially every session, so we had a little bit of a chance. But the weather was on top of that as well. [The rule changes are] not going to turn the car 180 degrees, it is still going pretty well."