“Another battle that wasn’t being waged in such good terms was that between the recovering Mark Webber and Ralf Schumacher in the Williams. Webber had made his way past the Williams man in true Aussie gritty style, pushing the Williams-BMW on to the grass as Ralf tried to resist the green car.
This was at least accomplished with the Jaguar alongside the Williams. Ralf’s later retort wasn’t quite so convincing. Having a sniff along the inside from too far back, Ralf’s overtake attempt was never going to happen. Webber closed the door and Ralf’s front wing endplates – no doubt sharpened in anticipation of dicing with his team-mate – made contact with Webber’s right rear rendering an instant puncture.
Webber limped to the pits as his tyre deflated and began to work its way off the rim. Ralf’s efforts meanwhile were all in vain as the Williams was parked up with smoke billowing come lap 27. “I was trying to overtake Mark but then I realised there was not enough room and I backed off, trying to avoid the collision, however Mark didn’t give me enough space,” said the younger Schumacher brother of the incident.
Webber, re-tyred and refuelled, took back to the circuit but this clearly wasn’t his day. As well as having to have a pitlane drive-through, this year’s Jaguar appears to be as hard on its rear tyres as last year’s R4 and a massive lock-up into turn 15 and the gravel saw Webber exit the race with a mere 23 laps completed. Despite this, with his qualifying excellence and gritty drive, the Australian’s employment prospects have been increased yet further by his visit to Malaysia.
Mark Webber’s take on the tyre puncture incident was slightly different and a bit more down to earth than Ralf’s. “He was p***ed off I passed him,” Webber said after his retirement. As for his own later off? “It was the rear tyre wear catching me out, it was my fault.”
I find that bit interesting. @ray, it true alot of cars were eiped put. However despite carrying a problem with the car he held off a much faster Toyota without cracking under any sort of pressue in only his first race.