Racer wants Malaysia podium after ‘eye-opening’ start to the season

Mark Webber
Mark Webber
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Aston Clinton F1 racer Mark Webber says he was left frustrated by an ‘eye-opening’ race as the new season got under way in Australia last weekend but is focused on a podium finish in Malaysia this Sunday.

Webber clocked up his fourth consecutive points finish in Sunday’s in the season opener but sixth place was not the result he was looking for at his home race.

“I felt like I drove well all weekend,” he said.

“So it was frustrating to come away so low down in the points. My goal was to finish on the podium, but things went against me from the start: we had no telemetry on the grid, we had no KERS for the opening 20 laps and the car fell off the jacks at the first pitstop, costing me time.”

It was an eventful weekend all told because qualifying was abandoned mid-session on Saturday due to a torrential downpour and had to be completed on Sunday morning.

Mark lined up second on the grid, but a slow getaway at the start of the race resulted in him dropping to seventh by the end of lap one.

“It wasn’t a good start,” said the typically straight-talking Aussie.

“We’ll look into why that happened. But when you find yourself in the middle of the pack and you don’t have KERS, you’re in a really hard place. You can’t attack and it’s hard to defend through the DRS zones.

“You have to have all your ducks in a row if you want to win at this level and all credit to Lotus because they did exactly that.

“Kimi (Raikkonen, the race winner) executed a very clean race and it didn’t matter that he didn’t have a strong qualifying; he had the range in his tyres to do a two-stop strategy and that made life pretty easy for him.”

Tyre wear was more of a concern for Webber.

He was the first car to pit for new rubber, on lap five, and he had to conduct a three-stop strategy to get to the end of the race.

“I couldn’t hide the fact that I had high tyre deg and I had to pit when I needed,” he said.

“The frequency of my pitstops came as a bit of a surprise because you might have expected the cooler track temperatures on race day to make life easier.

“But that wasn’t the case and we go to Malaysia next week with our eyes completely open.”

There is a quick turnaround for Webber and his rivals now as the Malaysian Grand Prix takes place this weekend.

And in the Stag At Mentmore co-owner’s opinion Sepang is the first ‘proper’ racetrack of the year.

He said: “Its fast sweeps, long straights and big stops are more representative of the other circuits on the calendar than Melbourne, so if you’re quick in Malaysia it usually bodes well for the rest of the season.

“The circuit is a real test for the drivers because this is a very hot grand prix.

“I finished fourth last year and will be hoping to get back on the podium this time.”