Mark Webber was understandably frustrated at having yet again been forced to retire from a race whilst lying in a points-paying position, as transmission failure robbed him of a strong finish in the Brazilian Grand Prix - and shattered Red Bull Racing's hopes of overhauling Williams for fourth in the constructors' standings.

Having qualified an excellent fifth - equalling RBR's highest grid position of the campaign, achieved by team-mate David Coulthard in Shanghai a fortnight earlier - Webber ran fourth in the early laps until he was passed by BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica, but was still looking on course for a generous helping of points when his bad luck intervened once more.

"I had a good start and our pace wasn't too bad," the Aussie remarked afterwards. "I hoped to get some good points, but then something failed on the car. It's pretty unbelievable really. The guys saw a disconnect between the engine and the gearbox, which is another new issue by the looks of it, but it's early days and we need to investigate it further to see exactly what happened. We were on for some good points, so it's a real shame."

Coulthard had also looked good for a solid points finish after lining up ninth on the grid and battling spiritedly with Williams' Nico Rosberg - who eventually went on to finish fourth - for much of the opening two-thirds of the race, only to later tangle with the German's team-mate Kazuki Nakajima as the Scot rather ambitiously aimed for the inside at turn one.

"I thought we might get into the points today," the 36-year-old said, after taking the chequered flag in the same position as he had started the race, "but unfortunately I didn't have enough pace relative to the cars in front. I came together with Nakajima towards the end of the race which knocked my front suspension out, and the car was moving strangely around left-handers for the last ten laps. We just weren't quick enough today.

"I would, though, like to thank every member of the team - both race and test - and everyone based at the factory for all their efforts this year. As difficult as this season was, it's only going to get more difficult as we move forwards, but I'm up for the challenge and I'm sure they are too."

Team principal Christian Horner echoed his driver's comments, the Brit pleased with the progress RBR has clearly made over the final races of the year, but insistent much work will need to be done over the close-season in order to address the Milton Keynes-based squad's recurring reliability woes in time for 2008.

"It was a promising start from Mark," Horner asserted, "and obviously it's disappointing for him to retire reasonably early in the race with a transmission failure. With David, we struggled a little with some graining on his tyres. We rolled the dice and adjusted his strategy when it was obvious that he couldn't pass the cars ahead, and decided to fuel him to the finish. He then had a knock with Nakajima, which cost him a considerable amount of time. It's frustrating to have started in such strong grid positions but to come away ultimately with nothing.

"The whole team has worked incredibly hard this year, and we've seen some very positive signs in the car's performance over the last quarter of the season. However, the transmission train has let us down too many times this year, so we need to go away, do our homework over the winter, build on the momentum from the last few races and make sure we carry that into 2008."

"Mark had a strong start," added Renault principal track support engineer Fabrice Lom, "which was quite promising for the rest of the race, but he finally had to retire owing to a transmission problem. David, on the other hand, kept his position throughout. Williams were stronger this weekend and I'd like to congratulate them. We are disappointed of course, but it was a great and promising season with our partner Red Bull Racing and we are now looking forward to the next one!"

 

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