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Mark Webber Q&A

Red Bull Formula 1 driver Mark Webber answers your questions as part of a new series for the website this year.

Thank you for your e-mails, a selection of which the Australian answers below.

What's going on with you and Lewis Hamilton? When you guys meet on track you're like a couple of stock-car racers!
Jason Cronshaw, UK

Yeah, we've had two events where we raced against each other pretty hard - Melbourne and China - and it's just the way it's been.

In Melbourne particularly we spent a lot of the race together and it ended in contact, with both of us trying to get past Fernando Alonso's Ferrari at the same corner and it didn't work out. Fortunately we both got a few points in the end.

Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton bang wheels at the Chinese Grand Prix
Webber and Hamilton have had contact a number of times this year

There was some contact on the restart in Shanghai, which looking back, it was very slippery, my team-mate Sebastian Vettel was also down the inside of Lewis, and you don't have to make much contact in those conditions to put someone outside the circuit, and that's what happened with me.

I don't like to be hitting people. I like to race hard and fair, but it's just been a coincidence. I might not see him for six months.

Why do the drivers, including you, give Hamilton such a hard time. Are you jealous?
Ben Everden, England

Look, the situation surrounding Lewis's driving in Malaysia was handled very well at the race after Malaysia, in China. There's absolutely nothing against Lewis.

Hand on heart, the way it was handled was, this is what we think is right, this is what we think is wrong. It's not a witch hunt against anyone.

If anyone had driven like that there would have been some questions asked. It's totally fair to do that. In the end it was nipped in the bud. Lewis is fine with it and we move on.

Which non-Red Bull driver do you feel is your biggest title threat and why?
Tim Ferguson, UK

It's absolutely impossible to name one driver and it would not be very wise to do so. But you would say both McLaren drivers and Fernando.

Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton
Webber says Button, Alonso and Hamilton are the men Red Bull have to beat

The McLaren drivers because they look to have a bit more reliability up their sleeve with engines, and we don't know how what's going to go on at the end of the year [with Ferrari].

But I would find it massively unusual if those three guys aren't in the hunt at the end of the year.

How would you feel if your team-mate passed you in the pit-lane entry, as Alonso did to Felipe Massa?
Simon, UK

It was very hard against your team-mate, if fair, but also incredibly risky and incredibly opportunistic.

Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso

Cheeky Alonso nips past Massa in pits

It could have been quite confusing for the team, because they needed to switch the tyres around. And I'm not sure I'd want to risk walking into the factory having taken both cars out at the entry to the pit lane.

That would have been a pretty serious one to try and get over. But in the end it turned out OK for Fernando and he got away with it.

Is Michael Schumacher past it?
Edward Cooper, UAE

That's a tough question to ask someone who is out there racing against him, because at the next race he could come out and blow everyone away, so you want to make sure you're not eating your words.

But as I always said, you have to take your hat off to him. It was a very brave call to come back and test himself again at the highest level. He's an incredible competitor and he always has been.

I think after Monaco we'll know how his form really is. Shanghai was a pretty tough track for him even when we was on fire. He'll feel a bit more at home at Barcelona and also at Monaco, which is a track where he always did exceptionally well.

Michael Schumacher

Schumacher frustrated after difficult race

So we'll see after that how he's going and we might be able to be as harsh as the question is.

Monaco is a place you just plug Michael in and off he goes. If he's not going to be doing that this year, you can say he might be having problems coming to grips with the car.

These cars change every two or three weeks let alone every four years, so he's coming back to such a totally different environment. The cars are totally different, the tyres, the aerodynamics.

He knew he was going to have to get used to it. He's not that naïve. He knows he's not going to just jump back in and start blowing people away, he's going to have to work at it. And that's what he's doing right now.

Four rounds in, you've had a pole position, a podium, led three races and you've been in second three times when strategy has let you down. Are you disappointed with the results so far?
Toby Hussey, Australia

Definitely not rapt with the results. We've left some change on the table, there's no question about it. Even Malaysia, with the second place, I could still be pretty hard on myself and say I could have gone one better there.

Mark Webber

We just weren't quick enough - Webber

But Melbourne and China were difficult events for different reasons, the pit strategies in Melbourne, and in China I wasn't fast enough, simple as that. We're certainly looking to address that with immediate effect in Barcelona.

I don't think there's a huge amount I would do different. Bahrain was a qualifying mistake that put me out of position. The good thing is, I feel I have the pace, we just need to make sure we have clean weekends and role everything together.

Last year, the Red Bull was unbeatable in the wet. This year it looks like Ferrari and McLaren seem to like the wet better. What has changed?
Nick, UK

Very, very good question. Certainly if you even go back as far as Fuji (in 2007) and Monza (in 2008) with Sebastian and then both of us in Shanghai (last year) we did enjoy a nice advantage in the rain. At the moment it looks like we're back on a level playing field.

But we learnt a lot in that race in China in those conditions. Both cars finished and we have a huge amount of information to look through from that event. We actually don't know why it has happened like that! But there is a trend there, for sure.

The 'F-duct' aerodynamic device has given the McLarens a considerable boost in straight-line speed, are Red Bull going to have their own F-duct and if so when?
Ferris Shaw, UK

We don't know when we're going to have it, but we are looking at something, as I'm sure all teams are. I think it's actually called a J-switch; that's what Lewis calls it. So yes, as soon as possible would be nice, but it's not going to be Barcelona, that's for sure.

Everyone talks about the Mercedes being the pick of the engines. Would fitting a Mercedes engine make the Red Bull unbeatable?
Matt Galley, UK

We've have had an engine freeze on for the last few years and everyone has stuck to it. But it's whether we have frozen a performance advantage. That's what remains a question.

It's nothing against Renault. They know they could find more horsepower in a flash, but they know they can't work on the engine because there's a freeze on.

I have certainly been busting to go to the loo in the car, but I never have - although I know of other drivers who have

You can't just look at horsepower, you have to look at how much heat the engine puts out, what the fuel consumption is. There are lots of different things that make an F1 car work.

You have aerodynamic implications with the cooling, and the fuel effect, which is the weight of the car at the start of the race and throughout the grand prix.

There would certainly be parts of the Mercedes performance we'd be interested in, but there are parts we'd like to keep from the Renault side. But you can't have everything. We are doing very well with the engine package we have. We have a very quick car.

On Twitter you said you lost your passport. Have you found it? How did you get through so many customs checks without it?
Colin Harrold, UK

I haven't found it. I only had to get through one border control on the way back from China, and that was in Glasgow. I flew to Dubai, then to Rome, then drove to a different airport in Rome, then a private plane to Nice, then a private plane to Glasgow and a helicopter to my house.

I certainly did have to fill in a bit more documentation up there. But thank God a bit of common sense did prevail. I certainly got punished for losing it in terms of headaches, but they let me in, which was nice of them.

To improve overtaking, do you think a reversed grid based on championship points would work?
Alex, UK

It would be a pretty good spectacle but in terms of the DNA of F1, it is totally not the right direction for me. That's just like a handicap system.

We saw Lewis have a reasonable run through in Malaysia from the back but some of the other guys didn't have so much joy because they don't have an F-duct.

We saw Lewis got stuck up behind Adrian Sutil and that was as far as he got without strategy becoming involved. And that's at one of the best tracks in the world for overtaking.

So, yes, I'd be the first to admit if Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner start at the back of the MotoGP grid it's going to be interesting to watch them come through.

But week-in, week-out I don't think that's the way forward. I think we need to look at other ways to address overtaking and have the fast guys start at the front and racing each other.

What do you think of Australia's chances at the World Cup this summer?
Roger Clarke, Reading, United Kingdom

They've got a tough group . If they can get through that, and finish second and England win their group they'll play in the next round. I'd like to watch that.

Before a race, the drivers drink a lot. Do you never have to go to the loo in the race?
David Vlieghe, Belgium

I have certainly been busting to go the loo in the car, certainly in the early parts of a grand prix, but that means I've made a bit of a mistake clearing my hydration.

Generally, you would try to get rid of a lot of the stuff you've been drinking the previous night and that morning, so you're well hydrated but haven't got a full bladder because a full bladder also makes you weak abdominally.

I've never been to the toilet in the car, although I know of other drivers who have.

Obviously you have a close relationship with Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey. What is it that sets him apart from other teams designers? How does he design fantastic car after fantastic car?
Lee smith, UK

His record speaks for itself. We know how many grands prix and world championships he's won with cars that have made F1 incredibly boring, through the Mansell era, and some of the Williams and McLarens.

Mark Webber, Adrian Newey and Sebastian Vettel
Webber holds Red Bull design boss Adrian Newey in the highest regard

It took him a while to get going at Red Bull, but the regulation change was right up Adrian's alley and we are seeing the results of that.

Its not just Adrian, there are other good people at the team, too. But obviously his brains in terms of leading the design concept are to be admired.

What sets him apart is incredible vision and interpretation of rules and he understands aerodynamics very well.

He is very clever at understanding what an F1 car needs to go round a track very fast. It's as simple as that, really. We're very lucky to have him in our corner.

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see also
Mark Webber Q&A
19 Mar 10 |  Formula 1

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