Webber quickest at Suzuka and warns rivals ‘still areas where we can improve’

Above,  Mark Webber with his engineer Ciaron Pilbeam. Below, Webber on Track. Both pictures by Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Above, Mark Webber with his engineer Ciaron Pilbeam. Below, Webber on Track. Both pictures by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

It was a good day at the office for Mark Webber on Friday, as he was quickest in the afternoon practice session ahead of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

The Aston Clinton-based Red Bull driver posted a best lap of 1 minute 36.366 in the morning session (third quickest) and the fastest lap of 1 minute 34.856 in the afternoon.

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 05:  Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull Racing drives during practice for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit on October 5, 2012 in Suzuka, Japan.  (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mark Webber

SUZUKA, JAPAN - OCTOBER 05: Mark Webber of Australia and Red Bull Racing drives during practice for the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at the Suzuka Circuit on October 5, 2012 in Suzuka, Japan. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Mark Webber

His team mate Sebastian Vettel finished the morning in 17th place and the afternoon in third.

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was second quickest and Michael Schumacher, the man Hamilton will be replacing next year, crashed out at the Spoon curve and hit the tyre barrier.

Afterwards Webber said: “It was a nice change to get some good weather.

“It’s been the first dry weekend for a while. We have plenty to go through this evening, it was a smooth one for us today and we completed all the runs we wanted to.

“It’s a challenging venue in terms of balance here, but the car ran well and we tested both tyres.

“We have areas where we can improve, mostly with the balance, so we have some work to do. Suzuka is a great track that’s remained untouched for a long time, it’s a classic.”

Vettel said: “The car’s performing, but there are still some things we can improve.

“It was a bit nervous this morning, better this afternoon, but we need to make a step overnight.

“I think tomorrow will be very, very close, so everything we can get out of the car will matter.

“This circuit is so special, you have the people everywhere who are so passionate about F1 – almost crazy in a good way – and the track is fantastic, you have such nice high speed corners one after the other.

“It’s so enjoyable, you don’t want to come into the pits, but want to stay out on track.”

Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg finished the session fourth quickest and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was fifth.

> Qualifying for the race takes place on Saturday, the race is on Sunday.