Mark Webber had to dig deep to find reasons to be cheerful about his Saturday in Valencia, after dropping out of qualifying for the European Grand Prix at the first hurdle.
The Australian had hoped to build on Red Bull
Racing's affinity with the Circuito Urbano, which runs around Valencia's America's Cup port and has seen team-mate Sebastian Vettel
win in each of the past two years, but ran into problems almost as soon as day two dawned. Although Vettel also appeared off the pace after fluffing his best lap in morning practice, Webber barely completed a lap as his car was struck down by hydraulic and brake problems. Although he still managed to post the 19th-fastest time, the Monaco race winner spent much of the hour marooned in the pit, losing vital set-up time for qualifying.
Even though the car was repaired in time for the qualifying session, Webber was late posting a flying lap as he checked the car was running properly - and then had a different failure when he set out to make the top 17.
“I had no DRS, which costs about 1.3secs per lap and made it difficult," he said, with some understatement, "The car's put up a big fight today - we only managed to do four laps, and three of those were in qualifying!
"In the first session, we did one lap on the harder tyre and then went out on the soft tyre to try and get through as it was so tight. We were hoping to fix the DRS for Q2, but we didn't make the cut; The lap time actually wasn't too bad considering we didn't have DRS, but it doesn't do anything to help the situation.”
To rub salt into his wounds, team-mate Vettel claimed his third pole position of the season, but Red Bull
team boss Christian Horner remains confident that Webber can fight his way through the pack on Sunday afternoon.
“It was contrasting fortune for Mark who, after a difficult morning, had a hydraulic issue with the DRS which prevented him from using it," he confirmed, "Nonetheless, he came very close to making the jump into Q2 without it. I'm sure he will have an attacking race from [P19] – he's proved before that he can come through the field and we've got no doubt he'll do that tomorrow.”