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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 were your thoughts when you took off and could only see the sky after the 190mph crash at the European Grand Prix?
Angie Buckross
England

I was worried about bridges at that point. I knew we weren't a million miles away from a corner but I didn't know if there was any overhead advertising hoardings or bridges at that stage.

I hit a pretty small one but I was worried about something that was a bit more structural than that. Once I stopped thinking about that, which was pretty quickly, we were back on the ground and having the next bit of the crash. As usual it happened pretty fast.

Mark Webber flips out of European Grand Prix

Webber flips out of European Grand Prix

Do you have time when you're involved in something like that to think about what's happening and how potentially serious it is?
Colin Bellchambers
Hong Kong

Oh yeah, absolutely. You have time to think that you're involved in a serious accident, although thankfully it doesn't go on too long! But you're still very clear in the mind.

The F1 crashes weren't as bad as the ones at Le Mans. They weren't as spectacular, or as big, even though I hit a wall at the end, which I didn't do in the Le Mans cars because we were on a straight that was going on forever.

How do you cope with it afterwards, knowing about the risk, the anxiety, how lucky you were? How do you get your mind away from it?
Scott Richardson
UK

You realise it's a unique crash, they don't happen at every Grand Prix, otherwise we'd be doing something about it as a group. You can still learn from them, even when you're not involved.

Red Bull driver Mark Webber

Webber says both drivers to blame for crash

I've had a few other drivers who have been in touch with me to say 'How was it?', 'What can we do to improve bits and bobs?' that sort of thing.

Getting over it is not that difficult because it comes with the territory and it gives you confidence knowing that the car is strong. It doesn't give you a licence to be reckless, but it gives you confidence in knowing that as a group over the last 10 years, everyone has made some good calls in terms of safety.

The best thing is just to move on. It happens. You can have big impacts in these cars - what was unusual about that one was that the car was upside down, which doesn't happen that often - but the impact of the barrier was normal.

Did you scratch your crash helmet?
Paul Cooper
UK

Not that I know of. I had a lot of radiator coolant and fluids coming down...I haven't looked at the helmet, but I'll leave that to the other guys to have a look at. I was just conscious of keeping my hands inside the cockpit - if they'd been outside I could have had some hand injuries.

Has the crash affected your approach to the rest of the championship?
Ben Burrows
USA

No. It was a non-finish and I'm looking forward to Silverstone.

Webber aims to break British GP duck

It was a different and unique non-finish but it can happen, as you saw with Robert (Kubica) in Canada a few years ago - and we saw Lewis misjudging the slipstream in Bahrain with Fernando pulling out, that they can go either way. Sometimes you stay down and sometimes you go up.

What scares you more - crashing an F1 car at high speed or coming off your mountain bike?
David Gommeren
Tasmania

Definitely crashing an F1 car. There's a lot more at stake! Mountain biking's a bit more fun - although he's probably talking about the big crash I had on my mountain bike, which was obviously very concerning as well. They're different though - it's hard to compare.

The crash overshadowed your performance in the race beforehand. How did you lose so many places?
Ingars
Latvia

We didn't have the best start and I was then boxed out in the run to turn two. I had a poor run off the second chicane as well and it was hard to get back in. I had a bit of contact with one of the Williams', so I lost two places to them because I went a little bit up in the air - obviously nothing like the other one - when I clipped the rear wheel.

I spoke to Jenson Button about it and he said the same thing happened to him in Valencia a few years ago. That first sector, when you lose momentum, it's a bit like an oval race really - it's very hard...chicanes with straights afterwards. And it just so happens in this case it didn't turn out for me. It compounded itself very, very fast and that's how it happened.

What race throughout your career stands out from the rest - if any - and why?
James Cooper
Scotland

Winning Monaco is a highlight in terms of Formula 1 and then there's your first F1 victory as well. Winning in all the categories, 3000, Formula Ford Festival...there's loads of special ones for different phases in your career which are absolutely crucial, but the highlight has to be winning Monaco in the fashion that I did. It wasn't handed to me, so that was very rewarding for me.

Were you at any point uncertain about your future with Red Bull before signing a new contract? And at what point do you begin to consider other teams for the next season?
Lee Smith
UK

I wasn't really going to consider any other teams. I'm very comfortable and happy here and that was something I was very keen to continue to make work.

To move to another team for one or two years, you've got to get to know a whole new bunch of people. It takes a lot of energy to get used to a new group of people so I was definitely very keen to stay at Red Bull.

I'm not really uncertain about the future. You always have to earn your stripes in this game and that's how it should be. I've never been a big fan of people who say why don't you want a two or three-year contract?

When you're 21, 22, that's fine, but later in your career I'm happy to sign on for a year each year. It suits me as much as it suits them.

I'm not sure how I'm going to be thinking in two or three years' time, so it's nice to take it year on year, knowing you can give it your absolute utmost for that season.

If Red Bull weren't happy with my performances, they would have changed me, and that's what happens. I was very keen also to make that decision very easy for them in the end - and that's hopefully how it was.

What do you think to people who say Red Bull appear to be on Vettel's side more than yours?
Gareth Holt
UK

It's easy to make that assumption. It's normal when a young driver comes into a team and, yes, Sebastian had the lion's share of a pretty decent season last year.

Red Bull rivalry 'very competitive' - Webber

But we're much more even this year and at times it's gone a little bit more my way and then Seb has had some results as well. So it's much tighter this year.

People's perception going into this year might have been that he was the favourite son on the back of last season's form and he fits the Red Bull mode pretty well - he's young and he's German.

There's lots of little one percenters that could add up so people think he's the favourite guy. But what I would say to those people is that Red Bull isn't in the position to just support one guy, because they're pretty keen on the constructors' title as well the drivers'. So they need to bolt two cars together as evenly as they can.

Technically I have the same chance as Sebastian. Emotionally, OK, it might be a bit different here and there because that's the way it is. But I have a very good relationship with Dietrich Mateschitz, Adrian Newey and Christian Horner - and they're the three guys that make things tick.

Has the relationship between you and Sebastian changed since Turkey?
David
UK

Probably a bit. It was a very healthy rivalry before Turkey and I'd say it's taken a bit of time to get over it - and I'm only talking a few weeks, which is normal. It didn't improve the situation, but it didn't kill our relationship either. It was something that happened and I certainly got over it very quickly. I've had worse days in my life and we move on.

Some people thought it was the end of the world, but it wasn't. In the short term, he lost more out of it than I did. But the whole team has learnt from the situation, including the drivers to a degree.

It would be totally unrealistic for me to say our relationship is exactly the same, because when we're pushing the boundaries and lifting the bar very high for the team, when there's quite a bit at stake, relationships will be strained. That is totally natural and that's a healthy thing as well.

Team-mates seem to get on well at the back of the grid - if you look at Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli, they get on like a house on fire because there's nothing at stake but further up the grid there's a lot at stake and that's been the same at Formula 1 for 30 years.

What are your thoughts on the Alonso-Hamilton argument after Valencia - and was what happened fair?
Matthew Powney
UK

I think Fernado was a bit confused. I listened to part of the radio and I think he was a bit confused how he ended up where he did after the safety car and Lewis ended up where he did and then had a drive-through 20 laps after he effectively committed a crime if you like.

For me, everything in that race was fine. I haven't, for lots of different reasons, watched it back. There wasn't a great deal for me to be excited about - it wasn't the greatest Sunday for me - so I preferred to watch the MotoGP instead!

But I can only go on what my team told me - and they were obviously very neutral - and they told me the race was handled normally.

Was there ever a point in your F1 career where you thought you would never get a championship-winning car?
Stevo
UK

Absolutely. Drivers don't often have a chance to work with someone like Adrian and his team of people. Look at Rob Marshall - not only has he designed a very structural car - and one that saved me the other day - but also a very quick car.

The injection of motivation within our team because of the success that has happened is very rewarding for all of us. For me as a driver to be in that position is not something you take for granted and you certainly relish it every weekend.

What's the reason behind the Twitter nickname 'Aussie Grit' ?
Anika Blake
Edinburgh

It came about through some friends in Australia. They said I'd been through a bit of a roller-coaster during my career and I suppose grit is what you can associate with a lot of sportsmen and women coming over here and having to grit it out. And I'm Australian, so we put the two together and there we go.

You followed in Vettel's wake for most of last season, but you've had him on the back foot for a lot of this season. What's changed?
Brendan
Hong Kong

Low-fuel qualifying is one. I wasn't a big fan of high-fuel qualifying to the tune of one or two tenths - and that's the difference. Small things like that can cost people their jobs, like drivers. But that's our problem to get on with it. We have to relate and adapt to a raft of technical changes every year. It's like a golfer having different sized balls or clubs.

We have to work around the problems as a group and what you're going to do to get on top of those regulations. We've seen it with Michael Schumacher. Back in the day he could design a tyre he wanted. At the moment, he can't.

There are a few subtleties I've enjoyed this year. Last year I didn't make a big hoo-hah about it because it was obvious it wasn't quite suiting me. But this year it might be a little bit better.

What would it mean to you to win the championship this year?
John
England

It would be a total dream. Absolutely incredible. But there's a long, long way to go. I've got a lot of points on the board, although I don't have as many as some other people at the moment.

But I have led the Championship at some stages this year and I hope I can do it again at a crucial stage towards the end of the year.

Who's the toughest person you've ever raced against?
John Chan
UK

Probably Michael Schumacher back in the day.

Which McLaren driver is your biggest threat?
Robin
Gosforth

Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton
Button and Hamilton pose different threats

They both go about it differently. We know Lewis is pretty strong on Saturday afternoons, but then come Sunday, JB is back in there. He's made some masterful calls from the cockpit this year in terms of weather and he'll be there at Abu Dhabi for sure. They're going about it differently but they're a pretty solid outfit.

After your crash in Valencia, does it alter your opinion towards the moveable rear wings?
Niall Reddy
Ireland

We don't need to panic too much about that yet. Hopefully we've got some clever guys on the case looking at something that is quite good.

All that we do hope is that the drivers and teams are still rewarded for their hard work and skill - ie that the leader or any other driver can still pull away if they're good enough and fast enough and are not handicapped by having to run their rear wing in a position where they can basically never pull away from someone.

Although you will get to attack - if a driver does pass you then you can do the hunting. Just follow the fine line between 'showbiz' and still getting the results you actually deserve.

The rear wing is a different story but then how exciting is it to pass someone on the straight (as opposed to a bend)? I think that's what we're going to have to look at it.

The showbiz element is good but we can't make overtaking too meaningless. Otherwise drivers are just going to watch people sail past them and then do the same to them on the next lap.



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see also
Webber eyes maiden British GP win
05 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Webber plays down 190mph F1 crash
02 Jul 10 |  Formula 1
Webber 'lucky to be in one piece'
27 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber Q&A
30 Apr 10 |  Formula 1
Alonso angry at 'unfair' result
27 Jun 10 |  Formula 1
Hamilton hits back at Alonso jibe
29 Jun 10 |  Formula 1


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