2011 F1 testing
Mark Webber says Red Bull are “ready to go” in the first race at Melbourne.
Speaking to journalists after setting the fastest time in today’s test at the Circuit de Catalunya he said: “I think you could always need more time but I think we’re ready to go now to the first race.
“I want to see where we are and you always learn more when you go racing. It’s about your strengths and weaknesses as a team. Your pace, reliability, pit stops, Saturday, Sunday, the whole weekend needs to be tested. It’s not long now until the race so that’s good.”
He said the team had “a shaky start” but “got some good mileage in”:
“Nothing much has changed since the last test. The track was in good shape for the first day. We worked on a few things and have an absolute truck load of things to go through.”
Webber said he believes Red Bull are being tipped as the team to beat because of their performance last year: “In terms of organisation we are in great shape. We’re building on what happened last year so naturally people are aiming for what we achieved last season.
“I don’t think there’s a huge amount of evidence to go on from the previous eight weeks to be honest because everyone has a similar pace and today Ferrari aren’t here. We just need to go racing.
“I’ll be able to tell everyone a lot more after Saturday qualifying in Melbourne. On Sunday night in Melbourne, we’ll have 60% of an idea where we are 40% of it we still won’t know. It’s quite frustrating for me that I can’t tell you guys more about what’s actually happening. There is such a big variation in tyre age and there’s nobody in the pitlane who can see actually where they are.”
“We’re not always first in every test session. I’m not going to sit here and say we’re going to destroy everyone in Melbourne.”
He denied the team were hiding the true performance of the RB7: “Certainly not, I would love to be able to say that. There’s not enough time to play games with yourself let alone other people.”
But he refused to be drawn on any of the car’s weaknesses: “We have some things we are working on, but I’m like a boxer. I’m not going to tell you what I’m not good at.”
Webber said he has also been working on making himself comfortable in the car: “We are chipping away on a few things to do with myself in the cockpit. I’m comfortable and I could do a race tomorrow but there a few things I’m still working on there.
“As we don’t test through the season, it’s nice to get some time now to make sure I’m comfortable within the car so we don’t waste time on Fridays doing this sort of thing.
“I won’t be surprised if we spend some more time doing some long runs again. Maybe we’ll do a race simulation, we did one at the last test. More race work basically. That’s where the big prizes are.”
Webber explained how managing tyre use over a race weekend will play a bigger role in 2011:
“I think the FIA have come out and said they are going to look at the tyre allocation over the course of a weekend. We have always had a very fine balance over tyre allocation in the past so I think the FIA will look at that in Melbourne.
“Maybe we will have to look at tyre consumption strategically in how we use them for practices and qualifying before the race. Last year we knew qualifying was a massive thing. Of course I don’t want the headlines to be qualifying is less important but I think it is.
“Last year with just the one pit stop, it was incredibly important where you qualified. This year we are pretty sure we’ll be having more pit stops. Qualifying is always important, but probably a bit less so this season than in the past.
Asked whether drivers could qualify on the harder tyres to avoid having to start the race on soft tyres he said: “It depends on the speed difference between compounds.
“If you want to go with a more conservative tyre for qualifying you take a two or three row penalty. Is it worth it, is it not?
“You have to work out how easy it is to penetrate back through the field. If you go with this route, there will be a hell of a lot more overtaking if you go with the soft tyre and have to pass your way through the field.
“We saw in Canada when I was on the hard tyre, it worked quite well for the guys on the soft tyres, as the midfield guys weren’t there to hold them up. The strategy worked well for [Lewis] Hamilton and [Fernando] Alonso.
“I think it will become quite predictable in the end about how you make such decisions. I’m not saying the racing will become predictable but how you arrive at such a decision, will be.”
He admitted there were “a lot more opportunities to screw things up” with strategy in 2011 and said there was not much chance of drivers only making one pit stip:
“You can do one stop but you’re going to have a long race. Three stops are fine, you can do one but it depends if you want to catch your plane.”
He played down his rivalry with team mate Sebastian Vettel: “At the moment we only have one car so it’s a problem if we don’t get on with just that car -two cars, we’ll see what happens!
“We learned a lot about each other last year. It was a sensational season for the team and for both of us individually, of course I would have liked a different result but that’s sport.
“This year we don’t know if we even have a chance to go for the same results as last season. That already changes things. If we don’t then it’s less tension for us.
“How things were last year, it was quite a unique situation to have two team mates fighting for the title in the last race. Of course I hope that happens again. People keep talking about last year but it’s a broken record. I hope when I’m 70 people don’t keep asking me if I love Sebastian!”
Quotes and additional reporting by Leandra Graves
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