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Webber: It would have been a mistake to stop

Red Bull Racing star Mark Webber admits that he would likely have regretted it had he hung up his helmet come season's end in F1 2011 - as he looks forward to 'taking on everyone else again next year'
Just days after officially renewing his contract with Red Bull Racing into 2012, Mark Webber has confessed that 'it would have been a mistake to stop racing' at the end of the current campaign – and he has vowed to continue taking the fight to pace-setting team-mate Sebastian Vettel until the title is no longer within his reach.

It was announced on the eve of last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps – and appropriately, on Webber's 35th birthday – that the Australian will remain at Red Bull for a sixth consecutive season next year, and he promptly celebrated with a superb performance to recover from a torrid start to claim an excellent second place in the Ardennes.

Along the way, he pulled off a breath-taking, jaw-dropping overtaking manoeuvre on Ferrari rival Fernando Alonso going through the legendary Eau Rouge and proceeded to take the chequered flag less than four seconds in arrears of Vettel, with the race's fastest lap to his credit for good measure. Those who had said he was past it and didn't deserve his contract extension were swiftly forced to eat their words.

“Actually, it was a very difficult weekend,” Webber conceded, writing in his regular column for BBC Sport. “It turned out we had really good pace, so it might have looked easy, but we went into the race with some pretty major concerns over our tyres after they blistered in qualifying – the rules say you can't change them until after the race has started.

“It's not unusual and it's not normally a massive issue, but in this case the blisters were on the inside shoulder of the tyre, where the tread meets the sidewall – and that's when it becomes a bit more critical. The problem was that no-one could give us a definitive answer as to how long the tyres would last, or what we could do to alleviate the problem.

“Seb and I have both had tyre failures in our careers, and you want to do everything you can to avoid it – but at the same time not be super-conservative. At a track like Spa, where it's high-speed and some of the run-off areas are a bit tight, it's a particularly unnerving situation. We spent a lot of time talking about what to do. For the team, our safety is paramount, so it was not something we took lightly.

“The most conservative choice is not to start the race; the next is to make changes to the cars and start from the pit-lane. If at any stage something becomes critical, that's when you don't take any short-cuts. You have to work out what to do, and perhaps even stop the cars. Thankfully, it didn't come to that.

“It's public knowledge that we were running the camber of our front wheels – the amount they lean away from vertical – on the upper limit of Pirelli's recommendations, but I know we're not the only team doing that. In any case, although we could have reduced the camber, it was not absolutely clear that would fix it. We push the cars to the limit, and this was just something that happened.

“After lots of calculations and discussions with the team and Pirelli, we chose to heavily compromise our strategy by pitting really early. A situation like this is extremely rare, and it was pretty intense. For us as drivers, we know it's part of the risk of the sport, and we can't always have all the answers before we go into the race. You've just got to get on with it, but it's obviously in your mind.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
28.08.2011- Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 race winner, Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7 2nd position, Jenson Button (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-26 3rd position and Adrian Newey (GBR), Red Bull Racing , Technical Operations Director
27.08.2011- Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 ark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7 3rd position
28.08.2011- Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 race winner, Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7 2nd position and Adrian Newey (GBR), Red Bull Racing , Technical Operations Director
27.08.2011- Saturday Practice, Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7
26.08.2011- Friday Practice 2, Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7
26.08.2011- Friday Practice 2, Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7
26.08.2011- Friday Practice 2, Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7
31.07.2011 Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7
28.08.2011- Race, Mark Webber (AUS), Red Bull Racing, RB7 2nd position
Fernando Alonso arrives in style to officially open the museum complex devoted to his racing career
Karts on display at the new Fernando Alonso museum in Oviedo, Spain
One of Fernando Alonso`s karts, bearing the now familiar #14
Fernando Alonso`s first karting licence as displayed at the museum celebrating his career in Oviedo
Mercedes, Red Bull
daniel ricciardo (aus), red bull, F1 Austria test [Credit: XPB]
Fernando Alonso - McLaren-Honda MP4-30
Rain dominates day one of the Red Bull Ring F1 test
Wet start to F1 test at Red Bull Ring

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September 02, 2011 1:19 PM

I am sure the usual Webber bashing will go on however, I always find it so refreshing that he opens up and gives us an insight into the team mechanism. Is there another driver who so openly speaks? Whether he's a 1 or 2 driver I don't care, he's a competitor and will always have a crack. The sport will be much poorer when he does retire.


September 02, 2011 12:59 PM

Dave whats the odds and I will give it some thought. I hope your taking AUD because we are on a high at the moment. Just a question if Mark is like Massa how come he is 2nd in the championship? I think the only thing they have in common is they are both good guys.

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