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Page last updated at 06:28 GMT, Tuesday, 21 October 2008 07:28 UK

Mark Webber column

Mark Webber
By Mark Webber
Red Bull F1 driver


Lewis Hamilton
Controversy has surrounded Hamilton recently over his driving style
I've been asked a lot over the last three months for my opinion on Lewis Hamilton, as have all the drivers.

I've never been a big fan of talking about other drivers, but in China last weekend the journalists wanted to talk about the Japanese Grand Prix because of all the penalties.

That was the angle they were after, not so much Lewis.

I just said the only thing with Lewis is we have seen him move around in the braking areas, which has been a little bit of a concern.

That's probably why he got a penalty in Fuji, which is probably not the worst move he's done - he's got away with some others.

But that's fine. I was on the receiving end of it a little bit at Monza and I didn't say anything at the time. He's got a slightly different way of doing things in the braking areas, but that's how he's gone about it.

So I was asked about that and said Lewis is doing a phenomenal job, he's still learning and he's only in his second year.

I also said a marshal lost his life a few years ago at Monza when we had cars touching each other in the braking areas at high speed, and in a couple of places that was turned into "Lewis will kill someone", which I didn't say.

PRESS MISREPRESENTATION

It's the old thing that you try to give your opinion when people ask about a penalty or someone's driving or whatever and you get nailed. You live and learn.

You can be very shoot-from-the-hip and not really worry about the consequences, but it's the headline that grabs you into the story so you read it.

WHAT HAMILTON NEEDS TO DO
If Massa wins in Brazil, Hamilton must finish at least fifth to be champion
If Massa is second, Hamilton must finish at least seventh
If Massa is third or lower, Hamilton is champion regardless of his result in Brazil

It's always the negative stories that nail you. If you give a really nice positive slant on something, people think it's typical hot air. With TV interviews, at least people can get an idea of how you're feeling.

What I think of other drivers and my perception of them is for me, really. I've always said I'm not there to pump up anyone else's tyres. It's about going out and racing them.

SETTING THE HAMILTON FACTS STRAIGHT

It's normal that people become unpopular when they are successful. It happens in every sport, people naturally get jealous. But are they out to get Lewis?

I think other people's concern over Lewis moving around in braking areas has slowly built up. We've just got on with the racing and nobody's really complained about it massively to the officials.

606: DEBATE
Monkatron

Guys have been asked about the penalties and about his driving and given their opinions. It hasn't really been spoken about at any other higher level than that.

It's not been discussed at the drivers' briefing. We can see that action has been taken so we just leave it up to the authorities to do what they think is correct.

After those headlines appeared, I went to see Lewis and told him that I've been totally taken out of context in the UK newspapers.

He was fine with it because he knows how easily it can happen. I congratulated him after his pole.

I'm not there to crawl. I'm out there doing my best, he's out there doing his best, and when you see someone operate on his level then you've got to take your hat off to them.

THE CHAMPIONSHIP GOES DOWN TO THE WIRE
Hamilton's had a very good season. I think the best driver probably is going to win the championship, and that's how it should be. He'll deserve it if he wins it.

You could say, though, that Robert Kubica has been the driver of the year.

Robert Kubica
Kubica is widely considered to be a richly talented driver

He's probably been, at every single venue, the best and most consistent driver with the least errors (except for Silverstone). But, out of Hamilton and Massa, I'd say Lewis deserves the championship.

For motorsport enthusiasts in Australia, his abruptness and sureness doesn't come across brilliantly.

They would probably like to see him a little bit more humble but, on the other side of the coin, Australians like winners as well, and he's been doing a lot of winning.

But with top-flight sportsmen and women, sometimes there's a few edges in there and that's the way it is throughout their career.

HEALTHY F1 SEASON CANNOT HIDE RED BULL DISAPPOINTMENT

The sport has never been closer, the grid has never been closer. That's why we have had a lot of different podium places this year and seven different winners.

Lewis is in his second year and probably going to be the youngest ever world champion, which is a phenomenal story.

But we need to look at the sport overall, you can't just have one guy cruising around in front however phenomenal he might be. You have to put on a good show as well.

Mark Webber in his Red Bull car
Webber struggled in qualifying in Japan but raced relatively well

In terms of myself with Red Bull, I had probably my worst qualifying session of the year in Japan, didn't really get a feeling for the car in Q2 so that 15-minute window put me back out of position.

But my race was a lot better. I had a poor start and was last in the first sector but managed to come back and get a point, which I was very happy with.

The 10-place grid penalty in China was very difficult as it's a hard track to get close to people and overtake so, in many ways, I knew that was going to hurt us.

We had to go quite light on fuel to get a bit further up the grid in Q3, which put us 16th. We needed some weather or a safety car at some stage to try to bring us back into the hunt.

I would have like to have got more points but, to be honest, it's been a pretty tough second part of the year.

Mark Webber was talking to Andrew Benson

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see also
Hamilton 'calm' over title finale
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Hamilton closes on title with win
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Mark Webber - My Formula One car
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