Mark Webber has confessed that he pretty much extracted the maximum potential available out of his Red Bull Racing RB7 en route
to pole position for this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring – and having failed to capitalise upon the same advantage last time out at Silverstone, he has promised to be 'pushing very hard' on Sunday.
Webber clearly shares a certain affinity with the Nürburgring, for it was around the Eifel Mountains circuit that he claimed his first podium finish for Red Bull back in 2007, and then two years later stormed to his breakthrough F1 triumph.
Two years later still, the Australian stands poised to belatedly kick-start his 2011 title challenge into gear, and after progressing safely through both Q1 and Q2, in Q3, he left his rivals in little doubt as to who was 'the man' in Germany this afternoon, with hitherto dominant team-mate Sebastian Vettel not even making it onto the front row of the grid. Now the focus will be to avoid the kind of tardy getaway that arguably cost him British Grand Prix glory a fortnight ago – but you sense that lessons have been learned.
“The session went pretty well, with the exception of my run in Q2, which wasn't very smooth,” the 34-year-old remarked. “The other sessions were good, and the boys did a great job on the car; they've had some late nights in the lead-up to the event, so they've recovered very well.
“I thought on my in-lap, 'if someone gets me, they deserve it', as I don't think I could have got much more out of it – it was my limit, and a pretty good lap. It was very satisfying to see no-one got me at the end; it was quite an anxious wait for those 30 seconds! I will be in there pushing very hard tomorrow.”
As he bids to tally his first victory of the season on Sunday, Webber has also been reminiscing about that
summer's day back in 2009 – perhaps seeking to inspire himself to unleash a similarly brilliant performance two years on, albeit without having to battle back from a drive-through penalty this time around...
“About halfway through the race, it looked like I was going to win the grand prix,” he recalled. “I was quick enough and could respond to anyone's pace, so it just came down to reliability and the conditions not changing. After the final pit-stop, I was still incredibly focussed, but it's amazing how, when you have the margin I had that day, you're able to think of other things.
“You sit there and really do think, 'wow...at last, this is going to happen'. You're leading, you've got there and you absolutely know you're not going to make a mess of it, but you're still playing out scenarios in your head – all the Plan Bs and Cs. I did carry a bit more speed through the chicane [on the last lap], so that just in case the car broke, I had enough pace to roll across the finish line!
“When I did finally cross it, the feeling was just one of relief. It's not the race, the venue is not that important – it's your career. It's the occasion of doing something you haven't done before, something that a lot of people haven't done. When I got out of the car, the biggest thing I was looking forward to was the national anthem. It's always been my responsibility to get that anthem played at a grand prix, and when I heard it, it was pretty emotional.