Webber finds “more negatives than positives” in F1

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Korea International Circuit, 2013Mark Webber says he’s leaving Formula One because the negative aspects of the sport outweigh the positive sides of it for him.

Speaking at the press conference for the Brazilian Grand Prix, his last race as an F1 driver, Webber said: “I wouldn’t be leaving if there wasn’t things I’m not happy to leave behind.”

“If there’s more positives than negatives then obviously I would stay, so there’s more negatives than positives for me. It’s something that I want a fresh change, a new chapter in my life, basically, I’m ready for that personally and professionally.”

Webber has often spoken of his distaste for the current style of racing, in particular the use of high degradation tyres which have to be treated gently, part of a package of changes introduced to improve the quality of racing.

“I think that we’ve had a lot of changes in the last three or four years, obviously,” said Webber.

“The racing’s gone through some boring phases, obviously, so we’ve introduced some DRS, things like that, things which I think have been a benefit to the sport, has taken a little bit of the tradition out of it, I suppose. Some of the passing moves and things like that which probably were not as difficult to achieve as years gone by they are achievable now so that’s a little bit fabricated but good for the neutral at home.

“Then obviously yeah tyres we’ve had some challenging times on those as drivers and as teams trying to understand particularly the new brand these days of heavily modified pace during races is probably not as rewarding as it was but that’s the way it is. Can’t always have it, I’ve driven in so many regulations – one championship but so many different scenarios. So yeah generally you have to enjoy it, it’s your job.”

Mark Webber, Williams, Suzuka, 2005Webber admitted he found the sport more satisfying earlier in his career. “I think the hardest and most difficult cars to drive were certainly in the mid-2000s, obviously when we had all the refuelling and the tyre war.”

“Those cars were tricky and you had to push every time you went out. There was no such thing as pacing it at any point really in qualifying, practice or Sunday afternoon. So really was a tight envelope for a grand prix driver in those years to operate and that was what we were trained and we aspire to do. So they were good times.

“Obviously a lot of power as well, the V10s were plenty of horsepower so the lap times that were floating around then were pretty impressive, and in the early 2000s as well, to a degree.”

However Webber admitted there are still “certain situations in Formula One which are super-rewarding”.

“Obviously driving the car on the limit at certain venues is still very satisfying, no question about it,” he said. “You’ve got Suzuka, Spa, Monte-Carlo. Come qualifying day, even racing at certain circuits it’s very challenging and rewarding so I’ll miss some of that.”

“But like I said I’m on a little bit of a slippery slope now obviously in terms… you’ve got to be careful not to test it too much in terms of your performance and what you used to be able to do. I still think I’m driving well but I don’t want to be around not driving well.

“It’s inevitable you’re going to miss certain parts. For sure the adrenaline and working with people like Adrian Newey, stuff like that, you don’t get to do that often, obviously. That’ll leave something which you’ll miss a bit but there comes a time when you’ve got to let go.”

“I’ll still have good adrenaline next year obviously with Porsche and yeah, that’ll be a good balance.”

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71 comments on Webber finds “more negatives than positives” in F1

  1. Ivan (@wpinrui) said on 21st November 2013, 14:11

    Good for Mark Webber; I’m sure he’ll be able to push all the way when he races for Porsche!

    • Psychotext (@textuality) said on 21st November 2013, 14:39

      Not as a general rule. WEC is all about managing fuel usage and tyre wear.

      • Ivan (@wpinrui) said on 21st November 2013, 14:56

        Oh what… :( Dang.

      • @textuality
        It is often said that these days, Le Mans is driving wise, more of a 24 hour sprint race, then an endurance race. The cars are simply so efficient and reliable, that holding back doesn’t really make much sense.

      • TMF (@tmf42) said on 21st November 2013, 16:00

        the difference is that the Pirelli’s simply don’t work in traffic – they have such a narrow operating window (temperature wise) that tire management is really keeping them at temperature. While the WEC tires are more about mechanical degradation – similar to what we saw with Bridgestone in 2010.

      • PeterG said on 21st November 2013, 17:14

        WEC is all about managing fuel usage and tyre wear.

        That was true in the past with endurance racing but nowadays there’s not a lot of fuel or tyre management going on.

        The tyres in WEC can pretty easily be double/triple stinted so you don’t see much tyre management.
        In terms of fuel management, You do see it sometimes but its not too bad as its mostly controlled by the electronics so the actual drivers can still drive as hard as they want.

        You hear it in all endurance racing now, The races are flat out sprints even the longer 12/24hr races.
        The fastest lap at Le Mans this year for instance was less than 1 second off pole position.

      • Rambler said on 21st November 2013, 18:07

        Except it isn’t. Ironically.

      • FlyingLobster27 said on 21st November 2013, 18:13

        Agreed, but not on the same scale. When you save tyres in the WEC, the aim is to make them last an extra hour, an extra stint, not slow right down just so that you can go an extra lap or two. Also, fuel saving is only worth it if you can go an extra lap at Le Mans (13.6 km in 3 and a half minutes, not your 1:40 5k Tilkedrome), so that by mid-race you’ve gained a pitstop on the opposition. To sum it up, saving tyres and fuel in the WEC is conscious strategy; in F1, saving tyres is a case of just keeping the car going.

    • Journeyer (@journeyer) said on 22nd November 2013, 5:39

      @wpinrui Not to mention they do rolling starts. :)

  2. andae23 (@andae23) said on 21st November 2013, 14:12

    The word ‘obviously’ was mentioned ten times in this article.

  3. I agree with him. Though I have been following F1 since 2011, 2013 has really shown all of the things wrong with F1 in this era. Over-reliance on downforce, most teams struggling with their budgets, tires that can’t be pushed, highly questionable stewarding decisions etc. One positive change has been the ban of refueling, because sitting behind a car until the pit stop phase was boring. F1 doesn’t have the same magic it did when I started watching, or in past seasons.

    I really hope the FIA can make F1 more about the racing in the next years.

  4. zimkazimka (@zimkazimka) said on 21st November 2013, 14:13

    Well, obviously.

  5. Robbie said on 21st November 2013, 14:21

    I can certainly appreciate the potential being there for a driver to find negatives in today’s F1 when he has experienced a far different era, a far different way of racing F1 cars, that was not really that long ago.

    Tire management has always been part of the game, but obviously it has become practically THE game, much to most drivers’ and fans’ dismay. And DRS may appease some who like more passing at any cost, but as MW points out it takes away from the tradition and is ‘a little bit fabricated.’ I wouldn’t be surprised if he is being quite diplomatic with his criticisms.

    At least for those of us who will still be ‘in’ F1, the tires should be somewhat less the story next year, and everything else remains to be seen. In a way it is a shame MW won’t be around to put his twist on the plot with the new regs, given all that he has experienced in F1, but he’s gotta do what he’s gotta do, and I can’t say it’s hard to imagine him coming to this point in his racing career.

    I think he’s going to have a blast with Porsche and do really well there.

    • BJ (@beejis60) said on 21st November 2013, 19:17

      Depends on the track if the DRS is strong. IMO, Canada’s and Malaysia’s DRS zones are far too powerful; either shorten up the DRS zone or split the zones to not two consecutive corners…

      Or simply go back to one zone.

  6. Punchy (@punchy) said on 21st November 2013, 14:25

    For sure !

  7. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 21st November 2013, 14:29

    The problems in F1 almost all stem from the notion that F1 should be an entertainment show rather than a pure sporting competition. Resulting in changes and gimmicks which I would confidently predict have attracted absolutely no new fans whatsoever, while turning F1 into a sad, mickey mouse version of what it once was.

    • Robbie said on 21st November 2013, 14:33

      Agreed, and for me the frustration is that a pure sporting competition IS a more highly entertaining show.

    • Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1) said on 21st November 2013, 14:39

      That’s the thing @mazdachris F1 does not need to ‘entertain’ people, people don’t watch Tennis because the players can only use the Racket a number of times before it falls apart!

      People say 2010 was boring, how wrong. 2010 was only of the greatest seasons of all time, if not the greatest; the whole argument stemmed from 2 races that were ‘boring’. I would say 2010 gathered more fans for the sport than any other season, including 2007.

      Its not like that this problem can’t be fixed either, as someone put it quite recently, F1 only needs a few rule changes to be great again.

      1. Change the financial situation, the way money is distributed is all wrong, we could have 11 healthy teams.

      2. Get rid of Ecclestone, anyone who can’t remember what they did last week does not need to be in charge of a global sport.

      3. Get rid of DRS and Cheese Tyres, no one likes them, expect the person from the FIA who first suggested it.

      That’s just 3 or 4 things, nothing that can’t be undone. If these changes can’t be made, then I hope the FIA look forward to seeing the fan base for F1 dry up and leave the sport in a crumbled mess.

      • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 21st November 2013, 15:03

        I just, in principle, don’t believe that sport should have to change its nature in order to entertain people, when the goal of doing so is to expand the audience to the widest possible. By what measure is mass popularity actually an unarguably positive thing? Ok, if successful it means more people watch and more money is made by the promoters (not those involved in the case of F1). But why would that be of any improvement to the sport itself? People still cling to the old cliche about F1 being boring. I still have friends who say “F1 is dull, there’s no overtaking. you should watch BTCC/MotoGP/WRC/whatever” and that’s their opinion no matter how untrue it is. F1 was brilliant in 07 and 08 because there was decent close competition which generated a compelling narrative within the championship. Not because of the number of overtakes or any of the superficial things which might make the odd race more exciting than another. It’s the human story which makes sport genuinely interesting, beyond superficial spectacle. Jimmy White never won the world snooker championship, and didn’t make that many centuries, and yet he was the player people wanted to see, instead of Steve Davis knocking in centuries with his eyes closed. Sometimes people forget this about sport. It doesn’t matter if there are processional races, so long as people can engage with the sport on a human level. I really like the current field of drivers, and yet to me the sport seems empty somehow, because the human elements are overshadowed by hundreds of slam-dunk DRS passes, or endless analysis of tyre degredation. F1 isn’t always exciting. No sport is. But that doesn’t mean it stops being compelling or engaging to the people who genuinely love it. And it’s those people who are being ignored in favour of chasing the almighty dollar. That’s why for me, F1 right now is in a very sorry state. My sport is too precious to be exploited as a cash cow, increasing the wealth of people who wouldn’t know a wing from a wheelnut.

        • Robbie said on 21st November 2013, 16:17

          An as usual well-worded post, this time on the state of F1. But the remaining question to ask is WHY has F1 decided that the way to go is the path they have chosen. What is it about the world today that has F1 thinking passing at any cost, and endless tire monitoring is the way to bolster F1?

          I can’t say I’m at all surprised that F1 would try to create the story rather than letting the actual players create it on the track. I still firmly believe that Max and Bernie orchestrated the exodus of MS and crew from the tainted Benetton team to become F1′s new icon and end Ferrari’s WDC drought once Senna died and was no longer there to be a natural rival to MS and the last remaining driver of the 80′s era. Had Senna not died I would like to think that MS would have been left where he was winning WDC’s, and Senna would have worked toward turning the Williams into a race winner, and the Ferrari drought issue would have to wait, while the next chapter in F1 was created by the personalities on the track. But with Senna gone, I believe F1 felt they had to intervene.

          It was a shame to me how they intervened back then, and I agree it is a shame they are doing so now in the way they have. It’s so much harder to rally behind a driver who can simply open a wing to pass, or is either racing only when told he can, or otherwise just monitoring tires and driving.

          At least the only thing constant is change, and perhaps F1 will take heed to the comments the likes of which @mazdachris makes, and it starts next year with better tires and potentially better racing, and hopefully circumstances that will see the show be more in the hands of the actual drivers on the track…the human elements who can remind us that they are a big part of why we watch.

        • SteveR said on 21st November 2013, 16:29

          There have been other changes in F1 over the years that have, IMHO, diminished it’s attraction – the technical aspect. The formula is so controlling there are no real opportunities for innovation, either in the chassis or the engine. We have had a homologated engine formula for years now; 2.4 L V8 with regulations on weight, bore, c.g., rpm, materials, V angle, cylinder spacing, etc. etc. Stuff that is on street cars is banned like variable valve timing; variable intake trumpets are banned; the list goes on. Look at 2014 engine regs; why even have different manufacturers? If one engine gets ahead of the others the FIA will equalize the engines.

          Technically F1 has become a boring formula. I used to buy all the technical analysis books each season but have given up on that, as there is no innovation, except some fiddly little aero bit. Andlook at the cars; they’re plain ugly. The front wings are too big, and all the little bits spouting here and there, although they have uses, look stupid.

          It’s getting boring.

        • Akshay (@hamilfan) said on 21st November 2013, 19:32

          @mazdachris excellent comment .
          I never thought I would say this a few years ago but
          ” How I wish Alonso , Hamilton , Vettel , Kimi and Hulkenberg could race on the absolute limit without the need to manage tyres . ”
          Now , I don’t know about you guys , but I think if the cars were close to equal , the racing would be intense .

      • @full-throttle-f1 That’s the thing @mazdachris F1 does not need to ‘entertain’ people,

        Sorry mate, but F1 absolutely has to ‘entertain’ people, or else there isn’t enough viewership to justify the sponsorship fees being demanded/paid, b/c at end of day, this sport – and all pro sports – are business (and big business in some cases).

        I can understand and empathize w/ the desires of the purist, but it’s disingenuous to suggest that the sport is not “the show” that must entertain…

        • MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 21st November 2013, 20:15

          I understand your point but I think this is a fallacy. Sport is, by nature, entertaining. It’s the competition itself from which the entertainment is derived. You highlight the problem: sport is business. Or at least it has become such. But business, by nature, always craves growth. So it’s not enough for big business to simply have a successful product (which F1 is, and has been for decades, through several generations of drivers and hundreds of rule changes), but rather that success MUST always be built upon. Shareholders must ALWAY see increasingly large returns. The rich demand that they must always get richer. And so here we arrive – F1 ceases to be sport and is instead a consumer product. The product must be made as successful as possible by continually expanding the market. But sport isn’t really a product. If you try to change it to appeal to everyone, you change it to try and appeal to people who, fundamentally, do not like the sport. The focus shifts from the established fan base in order to try and appease critics. And in doing so we end up as we have done, with a product which no longer delivers on the core values which defined it when big business got its hands on it. And who benefits from this? Not you, not me, not those participating. But those rich shareholders who have no understanding of what they are actually meddling with. The sport is no better for the expansion; it is poorer for it. The teams aren’t better off. The sponsors don’t find it more attractive. It’s poisonous.

          We live in an age of utter superficiality where value is only ever measured in terms of financial strength. The core values of Motorsport aren’t defined by money so increasing the money in the sport doesn’t, in and of itself, increase the intrinsic value of the sport to its fan base. It weakens it. Because in order to maximise the commercial value of the product, the core values of the sport are compromised, or even abandoned altogether. Some people got rich, sure. But I feel pretty short changed by it.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 21st November 2013, 22:50

            @mazdachris, agree with everything you have said, I would just like to emphasize that the reason these gimmicks were introduced was to compensate for the results of cost-cutting efforts made not to benefit the teams but to compensate for the vast amounts of revenue taken out of the sport by Bernie and his successors, in order to compensate for the lack of a team being able to build a higher powered engine for a straight line speed advantage we have DRS, in order to compensate for the unpredictability of the most powerful engine actually finishing the race on full song we have tyres with a similar or worse failure rate, poor substitutes for the real thing, all for the sake of parasites profiting.

        • Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 21st November 2013, 22:00

          First of all, where else but F1Fanatic would anyone find such a wonderful discussion of the sport that we are reading here. Second, any discussion that brings up Jimmy White and Steve Davis is worth reading as far as I’m concerned:-)

          I find myself on the fence. The sport has to be entertaining but it also has to be “true to itself”. The decision to change the tyres to make it more entertaining destroyed this season. That took away from the sport and ended up making it less entertaining for drivers and fans alike.

          I’m on the fence on the subject of DRS – it’s an interesting tactic that drivers can use when they are racing to counter a slightly quicker car.

          @Lucas_Wilson I agree with those 3 things – the sport has to be more equitable to allow teams to compete and good drivers to find their way to F1 without bringing money

          I would add 1 more rule:
          - Cap the amount that a driver can bring to the team. That way it’s not a deciding factor.
          - Allow more testing for the tyres so that we don’t have a repeat of this season and for rookie drivers to get up to speed with the “old guard”

      • michael said on 21st November 2013, 22:58

        Rackets to only last a certain amount of time before they fall apart. Nadal changes his as many times as they change balls if not more.

  8. Manalive said on 21st November 2013, 14:44

    …Webber said: “I wouldn’t be leaving if there wasn’t things I’m not happy to leave behind.” Surely he meant “I wouldn’t be leaving if there wasn’t things I’m not UNhappy to leave behind.”?

  9. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 21st November 2013, 15:03

    I’m already getting a bit emotional… It’s just so sad to think from sunday on I’ll watch F1 races without supporting Mark Webber… sigh, everything ends some time or another.

  10. Timothy Katz (@timothykatz) said on 21st November 2013, 16:09

    I think I trace a tiny bit of irony there, Keith

    in particular the use of high degradation tyres which have to be treated gently, part of a package of changes introduced to improve the quality of racing.

    I love that. High degradation tyres to improve the quality of the show. Oxymoron?

  11. Michael (@freelittlebirds) said on 21st November 2013, 19:14

    It’s sad when such a well-liked driver is saying that especially right before his last race and while he is driving the very best car out there. But, alas, that is the Mark Webber we’ve all come to love. The man tells it like it is and I cannot wait to read his autobiography!

    His words echo what Schumacher said when he left last year. It’s written all over the top team’s drivers faces in the interviews – they don’t enjoy the sport as it is. Talk of drivers going to Indy or to Porsche for Webber are also not positive signs.

    Alonso and Hamilton are relatively young but they are not going to want to end up in 2nd-6th place for the rest of their careers. At least in tennis top players can win the occasional slam like Andy Murray did or in soccer the team can win in their league or qualify for the Champions League.

  12. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 22nd November 2013, 13:19

    Webber must stop trying to come across as the cool guy who is leaving F1 because he doesnt like the tyres or the rules, or whatever reason he is giving. I for one am I not being fooled by that talk one bit. The reason he is leaving F1 is because he was destroyed by his team mate and he can’t take it anymore. That is it, pure and simple. If it was him winning multiple world titles in a row I doubt very much he would ever consider going to race in another series.

  13. Jarnooo (@jarnooo) said on 22nd November 2013, 13:38

    Very Stoner-esque. Gotta give him credit for that. Hope he comes back one day, perhaps as a team owner?

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