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Webber's race hurt by technical problems
17 March 2013
A disastrous start for Mark Webber off the grid of the 2013 F1 Australian Grand Prix on Sunday at Albert Park, Melbourne was just the start of a thoroughly disappointing afternoon for the local hero.
But the team was quick to explain that Webber's woes were nothing to do with the driver, and everything to do with technical glitches relating to the Red Bull car's telemetry and KERS system, leaving Webber's race fundamentally undermined despite his best efforts in the cockpit.
"Mark made a good recovery after a difficult start and an ECU related KERS issue in the first part of the race," said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner after the race. "We managed to reset the system and his recovery was strong from then on."
As for that "difficult start', Webber explained that this, too, had been a result of gremlins afflicting the new RB9 on its maiden 2013 outing. "We were on the ropes really before the lights went out," he said. "We lost quite a lot of things for the start.
"We had a few issues on the grid, getting the telemetry from the car to the pits, which wasn't ideal in terms of the guys knowing where to set everything up," he said. "We had no idea really where to prep the car for the start of the race. We didn't have a clue where to put the clutch at the start. There was no telemetry back to the guys, so they were just rolling the dice with that.
"We lost KERS also for the first part of the race," he added, the latest in a long line of problems that the team have experienced with the operation of their KERS boost system in the last year.
Combined, those issues dropped Webber down to seventh place after lining up alongside his team mate Sebastian Vettel on the front row. The team reacted by pulling Webber in earlier than originally planned in an effort to sot out some of the problems and trying an alternate pit stop strategy for the rest of the race.
"It looked like we were quite heavy on the first set of tyres and we weren't that quick to challenge for the win as a team today," he said. "It was hard to fight against others on a two-stop."
Unfortunately there was a problem with a front jack failure that cost him extra time on pit road, and lost him position when he came back out on track. "We had a slow pit stop which put me behind Jenson," he said. "Fighting with Jenson with no KERS is very tricky. JB's an experienced character."
After that it was a case of putting his head down and getting on with damage control, knowing that his chances for a home podium were effectively over for another year.
"That's spilled milk," he summed up. "We need to operate better and not have those issues.
"I think even if we had a smooth day the way Lotus ran the race with two stops, it was going to be difficult for us to fight against that," Webber admitted. "It looked like we were not that quick anyway to challenge for the win as a team.
"We salvaged something in the end, but that was Melbourne today and it was disappointing not to get more out of it," he said. "I think the disappointing thing for us as a team was that we weren't probably as strong as we thought we'd be, but that's F1 - it can change very quickly."
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