Tag Archives: Mark Webber

Will We Finally See a Repeat Winner in Valencia?

Qualifying in Valencia saw Sebastian Vettel soar to the top of the time sheets, creating a gap of over three tenths of a second to Lewis Hamilton, who will start the race alongside Vettel. By 2012 standards, three tenths of a second is quite a large gap, and F1 fans were reminded of Vettel’s dominance over qualifying in 2011.

Vettel dominated qualifying in Valencia, putting himself three tenths ahead of Hamilton

Now that the grid is set, fans are left to wonder whether or not we will see the first ‘repeat-winner’ of 2012. So far, we’ve seen seven different drivers win the first seven races, and it seems more likely than ever that we will see the first driver to notch two victories to his name this weekend. The first three drivers on the grid have already won races. The other winners, however, are further back on the grid. Nico Rosberg qualified in sixth place, Jenson Button in ninth, Fernando Alonso in eleventh, and Mark Webber all the way back in 19th position due to a DRS failure. The most ‘likely’ drivers to claim their second victory are Vettel, Hamilton, and Maldonado in first, second, and third positions respectively. I use the word ‘likely’ with caution, because as always in F1, race results are determined by much more complex factors than the qualifying results.

A DRS issue left Mark Webber in 19th position on the grid

 

Red Bull have been somewhat disappointed with their race pace, highlighted by Mark Webber’s comments after Friday practice. They have run well in the heat before, such as in Bahrain, but they seem to be lacking a little bit of long-distance pace. If this truly is a problem, Vettel must pull out an early lead in the first stint, and may want to use the soft tires for as long as possible. Spending too much time on the harder tires could create problems for Red Bull.

 

 

Lewis Hamilton should be a strong contender this race, given his relatively strong pace during practice sessions. McLaren seemed more confident than the Red Bull concerning their long-distance pace. However, during the post-qualifying press conference he clearly stated that he was aware of the pace capable of both Lotus and Ferrari. With two Lotus cars in the top 5 positions on the grid, they must be considered contenders for victory. If we look at the performance of Lotus in Bahrain, we see that Raikkonen started the race in eleventh place and eventually found his way up to second, in front of the second Lotus car, which Romain Grosjean drove from seventh on the grid to third place.

Hamilton seemed especially wary of the two Lotus cars in fourth and fifth positions

During the past month, Lotus have been trying to improve their qualifying performances. They’ve achieved their best result in Valencia since the Spanish Grand Prix three races ago. With a strong qualifying performance and the very hot track temperature playing into their favor, Lotus are in a very strong position from which they can challenge for victory. Personally, my money is on Grosjean for the race win. If Grosjean is able to stick with the leaders at the beginning of the race, he has the potential to put on a very strong late-race charge, as Raikkonen did in Bahrain.

 

Given Red Bull’s possible race pace issues, the race could possibly come down to a battle between Hamilton and Grosjean, and possibly Kimi Raikkonen as well. Given Lotus’ consistent pace throughout the weekend, and Hamilton’s wariness of their speed, I believe that a Lotus driver will be standing on the top step of the podium tomorrow. Then again, this is 2012. Heikki Kovalainen could win tomorrow, for all I know.

 

Hell, maybe even Kovalainen could win one this season!

 

 

 

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Webber vs. Vettel: The Season So Far

Two races into the F1 season, and we as F1 fans have been treated with a fantastic couple of races in Australia and Malaysia. There have been some surprising results, the strong showings from Sauber in the first two races, Mercedes’ lack of race pace, and Fernando Alonso’s stunning victory in Malaysia. One area of interest in the F1 world lies within the Red Bull Racing team, more specifically between Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. 

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The Red Bull team mates have another head-to-head season in front of them

Last year, Webber was completely dominated by Vettel. Although Webber scored more points than he had in 2010, he was completely outgunned by his younger team mate, and won only a single race. Many thought 2011 could be the end of Webber’s run among the top driver’s, although some had hope that he could rebound in 2012. 

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Webber was relegated to #2 after the 2010 season

So far, Webber is looking strong. His main downfalls in 2011 were a lack of qualifying pace, and a tendency to lose several positions before the first lap was over. His pace during the races, however, was often quite strong, and on par with Vettel’s lap times. So far this year, he has outqualified his team mate twice in a row, showing possible signs of an improvement from Webber in qualifying. Webber lost out to Vettel in the first race when Vettel secured second place, and Webber could only manage fourth. In Malaysia, Webber secured another fourth place finish, while Vettel scored zero points after a tire puncture late in the race. 

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Webber in the pits in Malaysia

 

 

The Malaysian Grand Prix was somewhat chaotic, and therefore did not give a clear picture as to how the drivers and teams stacked up. If Webber can manage to beat Sebastian in qualifying, and be consistently quick on the first lap, he stands a strong chance of beating his team mate. 

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Webber loses positions in Malaysia

For Webber, one can be sure that one of his primary goals this year is to beat his team mate, or at least race on the same level. After being completely dominated by Vettel last year, he must feel that he has to prove himself worthy of a Red Bull seat. So far, Red Bull have been slightly slower than McLaren, who seem to have the quickest car at the moment. If Red Bull are able to bring significant upgrades to the next few races and gain some aerodynamic advantages, then the title is fair game. 

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So far, McLaren have proven to be quickest

 

So far this year, it seems that F1 fans around the world could view Round 2 of the titanic battle between Webber and Vettel that took place during the 2012 season. If Webber keeps up his pace, he could bring the fight back to Sebastian Vettel. Most likely, it will take a few more grand prix before we are able to determine how they stack up against each other. As of now, Webber is ahead of Vettel in the championship, but this could all change in an instant. If Webber is considering staying in F1 for much longer, he must seize this opportunity to fight back and finish ahead of Vettel. 

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2012 could be the season for Webber to win races again

 

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Webber’s Chances at Red Bull?

Mark Webber has signed up for another year at Red Bull Racing in 2012, and claims that he has no intentions of retiring after this season. The question stands, is this the right decision for Webber? Many people suspect that Webber is knowingly signing up to race as a number two driver to reigning champion Sebastian Vettel. However, Dietrich Mateschitz, the owner of the Red Bull squad, promised that Webber will be treated with equality.

Will Webber get an even shot at the championship as Vettel?

Mark Webber has had a huge amount of success at Red Bull Racing relative to his stints in other teams. He claimed two victories in 2009, four in 2010, and one more in 2011. However, after narrowly losing the championship to his team mate Vettel in 2010, Webber seemed mentally unconfident. In 2011, he never had the same precision, consistency, and blinding starts that he enjoyed in the 2010 season. In 2010, he dominated his team mate in numerous occasions; Monaco and Barcelona come to mind. The 2011 season saw a dramatic change, in which Vettel was at all times more in sync than Webber. Surely Vettel stepped up his game for the 2011 season, but was Webber seriously discouraged by his defeat in 2010?

Vettel simply dominated Webber in 2011, along with the rest of the field

 

Webber claimed to have issues adopting his driving style to the new Pirelli tires at the start of the 2011 season, and many suspected that the downforce provided by the blown diffusers suited Vettel’s driving style over Webber’s. However, it truly seemed that Webber lacked the sparkle that he held in 2010. By most standards, Webber had an excellent season in 2011; he won a race, two pole positions, and several podium spots. The problem is, Vettel won 11 races and 15 pole positions in the same car.

 

The question may not be if Webber is given a fair chance in 2012. The question may in fact be, is Webber even capable of challenging Vettel in 2012? If the blown diffuser really gave Vettel an advantage, maybe Webber will be able to gain back some lost ground. However, Webber faced a crushing defeat in 2010, followed by a season completely under the shadow of his team mate. Unfortunately, I feel that Webber has passed his prime, and will not be able to overcome his team mate again.

Unfortunately, Webber is unlikely to dethrone Vettel

Red Bull Racing maintains that they are happy with Webber’s performance. He has done a great job in the past three seasons in Red Bull, and retired only once in the 2011 season. However, if Webber wants to be treated as a first driver, he may have to look elsewhere. If Vettel keeps his performance at the level it was in 2011, he would be a challenge for any driver on the grid to keep up with.

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Hungarian Grand Prix -Button Wins in 200th Race

What a fantastic way for Jenson Button to compete in his 200th F1 race. In a race with mixed conditions, Jenson Button was able to be consistent and make all of the right choices. Strategy was critical in this Hungarian Grand Prix, and Button didn’t put a foot wrong in his decisions.

Button shows great consistency to take 25 points in Hungary

Here is the order:

1. Jenson Button

2. Sebastian Vettel

3. Fernando Alonso

4. Lewis Hamilton

5. Mark Webber

6. Felipe Massa

7. Paul di Resta

8. Sebastian Buemi

9. Nico Rosberg

10. Jaime Alguersauri

11. Kamui Kobayashi

12. Vitaly Petrov

13. Rubens Barrichello

14. Adrian Sutil

15. Sergio Perez

16. Pastor Maldonado

17. Timo Glock

18. Daniel Ricciard0

19. Jerome d’Ambrosio

20. Tonio Liuzzi

Retirements included Schumacher with gearbox problems, the Lotuses of Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, and Nick Heidfeld. Heidfeld’s Lotus Renault caught fire once again coming out of the pit lane, and a component within the car exploded dramatically, sending debris onto the track. One marshall was limping after the explosion, but thankfully nobody was seriously injured.

A dramatic fire puts Nick Heidfelt out of the race

Arguably, Hamilton should have won the race. He overtook Vettel soon after the start of the race, and built a large gap immediately. During the second half of the race, Hamilton spun at the chicane, and as he spun back around, he nearly collided with Paul di Resta and was given a drive-through penalty. Hamilton also went onto intermediate tires after “miscommunication on the radio.” A glitch meant that he could hear the pit, but the pit could not hear him. Soon after he went onto the intermediate tires, the rain stopped, meaning he had to come back into the pits once again. This left him in fifth position behind Webber, although he was ultimately able to regain fourth.

Hamilton could not convert his great pace into a victory

Webber also made the same decision to go onto intermediate tires, and had to do an unnecessary pit stop. This combined with a bad start meant that Webber could only manage 5th position at a track where he won last year.

Webber could not repeat his 2010 Hungary victory

What does this mean for the championship? Even though Vettel did not win, his championship lead is now larger than it has ever been this year. This is because his closest competitor in the championship is Mark Webber, who finished down in fifth position. It seems that no matter what the competitors do, Vettel seems to pull out a greater lead. His lead has only gone backwards twice in the championship, even though three other drivers have won races. Unfortunately for the other teams, Webber is acting almost as a buffer for Vettel. Webber is scoring solid results, and Vettel has finished in front of Webber at all races but one, but Webber is still second in the championship. This means that even when competitors beat Vettel, Vettel’s championship lead still extends.

Vettel opened up his championship lead to 85 points

However, we are about to reach a point when wins from drivers like Hamilton and Alonso will allow them to overtake Webber in the standings, and chew down on Vettel’s lead. Alonso has scored more points in the past four races than any other driver, and one can expect him to do so. His ability to perform strongly in every car he drives will be important as Ferrari try to match Red Bull’s performance.

Alonso has been scoring great points recently. A challenger for Vettel?

Hamilton is also looking strong, after running through the field in Silverstone to finish third, winning the German Grand Prix, and missing a victory that should have been his today in Hungary. They should now be confident and motivated to work hard over the break to keep their momentum. McLaren have won the last two races, so both Ferrari and Red Bull will be desperate to increase their pace over the break.

With 2 wins to his name, Hamilton could put a late-season charge on Vettel

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German Grand Prix Analysis

We’ve just passed the halfway point of the 2011 F1 season, with Lewis Hamilton being the latest driver to stand on the top step at the German Grand Prix. So far this season we’ve seen domination of the field both in qualifying and often in race pace as well by the Red Bull Racing RB7. Sebastian Vettel in particular has had a commanding run, winning 6 out of 10 races so far. However, there has been a recent shift in momentum between the constructors.

Vettel will most likely come out on top this season

Sebastian Vettel is still miles ahead of the competition, with the closest competitor being his own team mate -Mark Webber. This is a comfortable position to be in, especially when drivers like Webber, Hamilton, and Alonso are very evenly matched at the moment. We’ve seen three different race winners aside from Vettel, which means that no one is consistently winning like Vettel does, allowing the Red Bull racer to widen the gap. When Alonso won at Silverstone, the gap still widened because Sebastian Vettel beat Webber who was his closest team mate. It seems that no matter what the result is, his advantage increases. The only times that his lead has decreased was in China when Hamilton won, and in Germany when Hamilton won again. That said, Sebastian seems to have trouble when racing wheel to wheel. Many have said he is unable to overtake, and is only a great driver when out in front. There is some evidence to show; Button forced a mistake from Vettel in Canada, Vettel made many errors while running in 5th position in Germany. I’m not entirely sure I believe it, but it could be true. With an increase in pace from Ferrari recently, we may be able to evaluate how he drives wheel to wheel more certainly.

A rare error from Vettel gives Button a victory

Webber is also looking reasonably strong. He secured pole position in the past two grand prix, but was unable to convert them into victories, securing third in both Britain and Germany. His starts this year haven’t been brilliant; he has lost positions at the start more than he has gained. His race pace, however, has been quite good. He must be pleased with the fact that he is matching his team mate in both qualifying and race pace, especially in Germany when Vettel finished behind Webber for the first time this season. It is almost certain according to both Webber and team boss Christian Horner that Webber will be racing for Red Bull in 2012. Hopefully he will be able to put up more of a fight next season.

Webber has shown impressive pace recently

Ferrari have had a great run in the past few Grand Prix. They have scored more points than any other team in the past two races, and Fernando Alonso has scored more points than any other driver in the last three. Fernando Alonso is still in the title race, but he says he will “need the help of McLaren” to try to tame the Red Bull team. The chances of Ferrari winning either the driver’s or constructor’s championship is quite slim. If I were at Ferrari, I would accept the fact that Red Bull have the best car this year, and start work on the 2012 machine, which Ferrari have promised will be “aggressive.” Time will tell.

Great victory from Alonso in Silverstone

McLaren have also had spots of success; Hamilton won the third race in China, Button in Canada, and Hamilton again in Germany. They have the most wins after Red Bull, but it seems that they cannot convert great performances into great team results. Although they had victories in Germany and Canada, in both races only one of their cars crossed the line. A team like McLaren cannot afford to be only “running” one car, because they have two great drivers both capable of podium positions and victories. Button claimed he is “not fighting” for the championship anymore, and will just “do the best he can” at each upcoming venue. If McLaren doesn’t raise their consistency, Hamilton could be the next to follow Button’s path.

An error from Mclaren means Button leaves the pits with an insecure wheel

Renault have had problems recently. Their season should have been great, and has gone downhill since the start. Ace driver Kubica suffered a horrible rally crash before the season, and was lucky to escape with his life. Whether he’ll be back in 2012 or not is not clear, let alone returning to his previous performance levels. With Petrov and Heidfeld scoring podiums in the first two races, one could imagine that Kubica could have been much stronger. Renault have not had great results since those two podiums; the most points they’ve scored in a race since the first two was ten points in Canada and Turkey. If they want to have any chance at beating Mercedes this year, they have to step up their game, bring both cars across the line, and increase their qualifying performance.

Kubica should be on the podium in 2011, but suffered a heavy rally crash meaning he probably will not race this year

All in all, I think this is Red Bull’s year. Other teams have too much ground to cover to catch up to Red Bull. The chances of Red Bull winning both titles this year is very high, so one should not risk next year’s car in an attempt to catch up RBR this year -they will most likely fail. Ferrari have promised an “aggressive” car for 2012, they should get working on that and accept that Red Bull have it in the bag.

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German Grand Prix Results

What a fantastic way to kick off the second half of the 2011 F1 season. The German Grand Prix was a thrilling race with many battles, of which Lewis Hamilton eventually came out on top. After sub-par performances in Canada, Monaco, and Valencia, Hamilton must be absolutely stoked to be at the top step of the podium again. This is his 16th Grand Prix victory, bringing him back on page with Sebastian Vettel. He claimed after the race that his performance was “in his top 5” of his greatest races.

Hamilton enjoys the top step of the podium

Hamilton took Webber at the start of the race into the first corner. He then was being caught by Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber. Mark was able to pass Hamilton through an undercut at the first round of pit stops. However, during the second round of pit stops, Webber lost out to both Hamilton and Alonso in another failed undercut. After the first round of pit stops, Hamilton was able to pass Alonso in the second corner which was deemed “essential,” because he was able to dictate the race pace from there, and eventually finish on top with Alonso and Webber trailing several seconds behind.

Podium at the Nurburgring

Vettel had a challenging day; he was blocked out and passed by Alonso at the start, and had a high-speed spin later in the race. He would eventually finish fourth after passing Massa in the pits. It was the first time he hasn’t been on the podium since Korea of the 2010 season. Massa backed off of Vettel toward the end of the race, but was still able to bring home 5th in his Ferrari.

Massa was not able to challenge Vettel for 4th

Adrian Sutil had a great drive to finish 6th in the race. He didn’t make any mistakes and was consistent throughout the whole race. He was the last car not to be overlapped by the front-runners.

Solid race from Sutil in his VJM04

Mercedes brought their cars home 7th and 8th, with Rosberg heading Schumacher. Rosberg was up into 5th at the start, but could not hold the position and eventually fell back to seventh. Schumacher had a solid race, climbing up a couple of positions to claim 8th place.

Rosberg Heads Schumacher in Germany

Kamui Kobayashi, as usual, put on an overtaking show. He started down in 17th position and was able to climb all the way to 9th. It was a spectacular performance; he never fails to entertain during a race. Rounding out the top ten was Vitaly Petrov, who also moved up a couple of notches.

Kobayashi puts on fireworks display at the Nurburgring

Next came Perez, Alguersauri, di Resta, Maldonado, Buemi, Kovalainen, Glock, d’Ambrosio, Ricciardo, and Chandok. Paul di Resta made a reasonable comeback after being spun on the first lap. It was Karun Chandok’s first race since he was taken out of the HRT race seat mid-season in 2010, and he said the German Grand Prix was a “learning experience” for him. He agreed that his performance was far from perfect, but he said he learned about the Pirelli tires, and Lotus was glad that he “brought home the second car.”

Chandok replaced Trulli at the German Grand Prix

Retirements included Barrichello, Heidfeld, Button, and Liuzzi. Heidfeld had quite a spectacular collision with Buemi, sending him a couple feet into the air. Buemi will suffer a 5 place grid penalty for the collision. Button has claimed that he is not fighting for the championship anymore after his two consecutive retirements, but he will “do the best he can in each race.” It is unfortunate that he has had such bad luck, especially when he was in a position to challenge for podium finishes.

Heidfeld gets airborne after hitting a Toro Rosso

The constructor’s championship remains the same. Mercedes seems to be pulling out a gap over Renault, and Red Bull are still far ahead of the competition. The way things are going currently, Ferrari should be able to pass McLaren before the end of the season. Ferrari have scored more points than any other team in the past two races.

The top 3 in the Constructer's Championship

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