29 August 2011
Webber 'stressed' by radio, tyre problems
Mark Webber reckons his Belgian Grand Prix could have been better without problems with his tyres and radio.
Mark Webber admits that he would rather have had a 'normal' grand prix in Belgium, but was happy to come away from Spa-Francorchamps with second place in a Red Bull 1-2.
The Australian, who had set the pace through free practice on Friday and Saturday, was restricted to third on the grid in qualifying, but was also caught up in tyre concerns after the Pirellis fitted to his RB7 - and others, including the pole-winning sister car of Sebastian Vettel - suffered sever blistering on their timed laps. When RBR's request to have the tyres changed was refused by the FIA, Webber, Vettel and senior personnel were left with the choice of starting on the damaged rubber and making an early pit-stop, or opting for a fresh set and starting from the pit-lane.
Having qualified strongly, both team and drivers chose the second option, with Webber pitting on lap three and Vettel on lap five. By then, however, the Australian was already having to fight his way back through the field after another poor getaway dropped him to eighth on the opening lap.
"The start was shocking," he conceded, "I dropped the lever and had anti-stall immediately. I think Seb also had a very close call, so that was a very disappointing way to start the grand prix.
"I saw [Bruno] Senna and a few guys in turn one smashing each other up, so it was important to get away from that scene with everything still intact and that was the case, [but] we were on the back foot from there, knowing that we were going to stop pretty early as our tyres were badly damaged after qualifying. We needed to get rid of that set quite early."
Opting to fit the harder Pirelli compound at his stop, Webber was able to make progress through the field as others took on tyres, but was then forced to run longer on the set than he had intended after a communication problem meant that he missed the window of opportunity to pit when the safety car emerged on lap 13.
"We had a bit of a fight with Fernando [Alonso] and he had very good grip on the option initially," the Australian noted, "[After that], I could stay with him for a very, very long stint on the prime tyre. The tyre was completely finished at the end, but that gave us track position back.
"However, we had a bit of a stuff-up on the radio. I was supposed to pit when Seb did with the safety car, but we had a completely blocked radio. I was asking three times in the Bus Stop 'do you want me to stop, do you want me to stop?', and gave them the radio back, but I heard nothing. I stayed out, and saw Fernando stayed out, so [there was] a little bit of confusion.
"It is hard to say [how it would have turned out]. If I could have had a fight with Seb through the middle part of the race, I would have, [but] I don't even know how close I was behind him or whatever. I probably would have been behind Nico [Rosberg] or whatever. I don't even know how it would have rolled out after that safety car. It was probably the better way for us to finish the race by pitting at that safety car, but we didn't know how good the prime tyre was going to be and, in the end, [missing the opportunity] wasn't a disaster either."
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