Mark Webber has lamented the reprimand he was given for hitching a ride back to the pits with Fernando Alonso after the Singapore Grand Prix, acknowledging that it will make the forthcoming Korean weekend a lot harder.
The Australian flagged his good friend down having been forced to park his Red Bull at turn seven with flames licking around its engine cover late in the Singapore race. Having run onto the circuit to climb aboard the Spaniard's Ferrari, Webber was reported to the stewards for having illegally entered the track without permission from the marshals, earning himself a hearty slap on the wrist.
The marshals' case was subsequently proven by CCTV coverage, released by the FIA, which showed that the two Mercedes – driven by Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton – had had to swerve to avoid running into either Webber or Alonso's car, which was stopped around the blind turn seven.
While that punishment in itself would not have been enough to affect his Korean Grand Prix, the fact that it was Webber's third reprimand of the year – and the previous two had come for driving offenses – it automatically triggered a ten-place grid penalty for the next race, setting him on the back foot before he even arrives in Mokpo.
"There's not much I can say about that," Webber was quoted by the West Australian
newspaper, "It's very frustrating, but the stewards have made their decision. It's now going to compromise my race in Korea, which is tough to take."
While team boss Christian Horner claimed that the error of judgement could have been dealt with by fining Webber, he overlooked the fact that, in renegotiating the terms of the mandatory superlicence, fines were dropped as a means of punishing drivers, leaving the stewards with little option but to impose a reprimand. Webber's previous indiscretions - contact with Nico Rosberg in Bahrain and not slowing sufficiently for yellow flags in Canada – were what brought about the heavier penalty.
The Australian, meanwhile, denied claims that he had been told by corner workers not to return to the live circuit – a point which formed the basis of the report to senior race officials.
“For @alo_oficial and me to receive reprimands for our actions after the race it is comical to say the least,” Webber tweeted subsequently, “Great moment, and fans loved it.
“And while I'm at it, contrary to reports, there was no interaction at all with any track officials after we put the fire out...”