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Page last updated at 09:26 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 10:26 UK

Mark Webber column

Mark Webber
By Mark Webber
Red Bull F1 driver


Felipe Massa pulls away from the Ferrari pit with his fuel hose still attached during the Singapore Grand Prix
Ferrari's pit error could prove costly in the title battle with Lewis Hamilton

There are three races to go and the Formula One championship could still go either way.

I would have said Ferrari and Felipe Massa were the favourites until Singapore, but their futuristic pit stop exit system ruined his race and it could have cost them the championship, and maybe the constructors' title as well.

Seven points is a good chunk to be ahead with 30 to go, so Lewis Hamilton's in a good position. He might do it.

But it could still go any way. A non-score would be extremely painful. That's what's just happened to Felipe. If Lewis has another one then it's game back on.

There is some quirky weather in all three countries we've still got to race in - Japan, China and Brazil. We've got different types of circuit, and Ferrari will be strong in Brazil.

Both teams have been making mistakes - everyone does - but you're penalised heavily for them when you're at the front.

And both have number two drivers who can play a role in support now Kimi Raikkonen's out of it - with strategy in some stints in the race, or in terms of short-filling with fuel in qualifying and getting track position for the first stint.

It will be an interesting finish.

HEARTACHE IN SINGAPORE

I went straight from the Singapore Grand Prix to Australia, where I'm taking a bit of a break with my family before going to Japan for the next race.

Singapore was one that got away for us - I had a great chance of finishing second behind Fernando Alonso's Renault but I had to retire with a gearbox problem.

The safety car rule is poor - you feel a bit stupid gaining positions like that

It wouldn't have been a position we particularly deserved on performance, but we benefited from the safety car rule.

Once an accident has happened and they decide the safety car is needed, they close the pits while the field lines up behind the safety car.

You get a 10-second stop-go penalty if you have to come into the pits before they are open again, even if you would have run out of fuel otherwise - as happened to Williams's Nico Rosberg and BMW Sauber's Robert Kubica.

But there is a brief window - between an accident happening and the decision to deploy the safety car - when you can sneak into the pits without a penalty. And if you are lucky enough to be in it, you can gain a lot of positions.

I was very close to the pits when Nelson Piquet hit the wall in his Renault, and the team did a good job of getting me in before they closed the pits.

Singapore Grand Prix winner Fernando Alonso leads Mark Webber during the race
Webber was on course for second in Singapore before his retirement

It's a poor rule - you feel a bit stupid gaining positions like that. But it meant from being 12th, I jumped up to sixth, which was effectively second taking into account Robert and Nico's penalties and the fact that Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella were on one-stop strategies.

We were going quite long on fuel, and we would have had good track position in the last stint. It would have been hard to beat Fernando - he was very quick last weekend - but we'd have had to work quite hard not to be second.

Fernando said to me after the race that it was a shame I didn't make it, as it would have been nice for Renault to have us both on the podium - him driving their car, and my Red Bull using their engine. But you have to take it on the chin and move on.

A GREAT NEW RACE

The Singapore Grand Prix itself - F1's first night race - was a fantastic sporting event.

For a brand new venue to have a brand new concept at the same time was definitely a challenge for them and they nailed it. They did an exceptional job.

Singapore is one of the best street tracks I've driven on

The weather helped. There were some showers on the island a few hours before the race but thank god they didn't come over. What happens under the lights if it rains heavily is still uncharted waters for that event.

It was a brilliant working environment for the mechanics and a good atmosphere, one of the best driver parades I've done outside Australia. People were really happy to see all the drivers and were really enthusiastic.

They were fans. They weren't just - as Roy Keane would call them - eating their prawn sandwiches. They were educated. They'd travelled from all corners of the globe to take it in, and a lot of locals as well, and they'd done their homework so they knew what they were looking at.

And the lighting was sensational. The drivers adapted to that really quickly.

Mark Webber's Red Bull throws up sparks at the Singapore Grand Prix
Singapore was a great event but the track's bumps may have to be eased

Nothing is absolutely perfect, of course. There was one section of the track which they would like to improve for next year, which was from Turn 5 to the braking zone for 7.

The straight there was very bumpy. There's nothing worse than having bumps on the straights because there's no skill involved, it's just smashing the car into the deck.

But the rest of the track bumps-wise was not too bad. It's nice to see the cars move around a little bit.

The whole spectacle was better than the other new street race we've had this year in Valencia.

Singapore is a better layout. It's got more characteristics to it. It's one of the best street circuits I've driven on.

RED BULL'S UP AND DOWN SEASON

Missing out on a big chunk of points in Singapore was especially disappointing because at Red Bull we have slipped a little bit in the second half of the season.

606: DEBATE
virgopunk

We had hoped to finish fourth in the constructors' championship, but that's gone now - Renault and Toyota are too far ahead.

Now, we've got to try to get sixth - which is where our sister team Toro Rosso are at the moment, after a really good run. If we can nick Toro Rosso back and keep Williams behind us, it will be very good.

Mark Webber was talking to Andrew Benson


see also
Ferrari furious over Singapore GP
30 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Hamilton happy as F1 nears climax
29 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Alonso wins as Hamilton prospers
28 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Singapore lights way to F1 future
28 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Singapore GP photos
28 Sep 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber's 'office' wear
04 Sep 08 |  Motorsport
Mark Webber column
22 Jul 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber column
02 Jul 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber column
26 May 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber column
22 May 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber column
19 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Mosley scandal 'has disgraced F1'
19 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber - My Formula One car
13 Mar 08 |  Motorsport
F1 needs British GP, says Webber
02 Jul 08 |  Formula One


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