• Mark Webber Q&A

'My toes are cold'

ESPNF1 Staff
February 8, 2012

Following his first run in the new Red Bull RB8, Mark Webber talked to the press in the Jerez paddock about the new car, his motivation and Bahrain

Mark Webber talks to the press after his first run in the Red Bull RB8 © Sutton Images
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You tested the new car today. What was your first very early impression?
Good. I feel good in the car. It's doing pretty much everything we expected, which is nice, with no nasty surprises. It's incredibly early obviously in the concept of the car so we did not as much running as we would have liked - a little bit short but not a bad little recovery. A lot of questions, a lot of things to go through, a lot of directions and a lot of ideas about what we need to do to put the car together for a full championship, not just for Jerez but for the whole season.

How does it compare to the RB7 in terms of handling?
Probably not a million miles away to an RB7 at the start of the RB7's life. But obviously the RB7 was developed, like a lot of the other cars, with the diffuser over the year. We always come to Jerez and drive the cars in the baby format, so Jerez never gets to see the cars at their best - Brazil does. So the cars are much better at the end of the year than they are at the start of the year. The design for the blown diffuser, the new front wing regulations [have changed], you know that, we know that, we just need to keep making the car as best we can.

Are you afraid that the new rules have taken some jokers away that Red Bull had over the other teams last year?
Not really, no. We're such a strong team, we have a lot of bloody good people here and we are constantly adapting. Since '09 when we first started to become competitive, we've had an active-ride height suspension apparently, then we had this, then we had this etc. It's normal when you are at the front that other people try to justify their positions. We completely respect the rivals and there are no guarantees that we go to Melbourne and clear up, at all. There's going to be some quick cars out there, as there was today, but I have no doubts in the team here.

First impressions of the new tyres? Michael [Schumacher] was saying the rears are a bit better than last year, what's your take on the 2012 tyres so far?
Not much in them. Again, we need to optimise the car a bit more for some of the changes, but it's pretty subtle. Obviously he [Schumacher] had the luxury of driving the same car [as he had last year] so he was just comparing the tyres, they'll put a big emphasis on that. We had a lot of other plates spinning today - we had a little look at the tyres but a lot of other things as well. We will certainly learn more about the tyres when we go to Barcelona.

How do you feel personally at the start of the new season and what are your expectations?
I feel very good, I feel refreshed, I feel extremely hungry and motivated for the new season. I feel the Brazil tonic was very nice in many ways. But also to have the off-season in Australia, I haven't had that big a break for a long time, and it was actually quite nice to do that. It's nice to be reminded that I enjoy going there for a break but I am by no means ready to go and live there yet. I still have stuff to do.

Mark Webber feels more comfortable in the car and the hole in the stepped nose is keeping his feet cool © Sutton Images
How is your installation in the car? Are you sitting lower?
It's awesome, absolutely awesome. We did the check in the factory and I think I'm a little bit lower, not much, but I'm extremely comfortable in the car.

Did you get plenty of fresh air coming in from the slots at the front of the car that have been discussed a lot?
My toes are cold, but that's alright.

These cars are probably going to run less testing sessions than any other car in the history of Formula One because we only have three test sessions. Do you believe that we've cut it back too much from a driver's perspective?
I think we need to be careful for the young drivers. It's not easy for young drivers to test and come into Formula One, that's something we need to keep an eye on. From a component perspective Formula One has changed a lot, obviously we don't have new engines every year and there are a lot of things that aren't pushed to the limit as much as they were because the life of the components needs to be longer by regulation. So generally the cars we've seen in the last few seasons have been more reliable, but I think there is a good balance to be struck. We were talking this morning how we used to change engines and gearboxes after the warm-up - those were crazy days when it was way too far the other way. When these new rules came out we all said 'how the bloody hell is this going to happen', but it's turned out not too bad. A few more [tests], if that, but I wouldn't go over the top because then we open up a whole new can of worms. Maybe an extra young driver test or one more test for them [young drivers] and one more test for us [race drivers] maximum. I wouldn't go crazy with the testing.

The blown diffuser has gone, which gave you some artificial downforce under braking last year. Does that mean you are now fighting the car under braking again?
The car's different on the brakes. The engine was part of the aerodynamics and all those kind of things, now it's different because the exhaust is not in the game.

More difficult?
Yes. It's normal when you take downforce away we have a bit more on.

Mark Webber is back in the Red Bull RB8 on Tuesday © Sutton Images
Under the new front wing test, which is a bit more severe than last year, Adrian Newey was mentioning that the front wing will be heavier which might give a disadvantage to heavier drivers because there is less margin to play with ballast. Is that something that makes you angry as a heavier driver?
We all race at the same weight, but it's nice to have some distribution in hand if you can do it. It's been reasonably well documented that last year it wasn't easy for me in many cases, there's a change this year with the wings as well ... but I'm more happy this year already than I was last year with the way things are.

Are you looking forward to racing in Austin? What do you know about the city and the track?
I know the city reasonably well, I went there in '03 and did some cycling there. The track looks awesome, I've only seen an animation, but it looks awesome and a little bit old-school, which is good with some quick corners. We just have to be careful not to have too many of these super sharp corners - like turn 3 at India - in the start of the lap. People like to see incidents and accidents, but to charge up to a 90 degree left, blind corner ... we don't have enough cars fighting for the win as it is! It would be nice to put that corner somewhere else in the lap, but apart from that I cannot be critical of it. It looks good and I think the Americans will embrace us. They've been screaming out for a race there for a while after the Indy fiasco and it will be nice to go back and put on a good show for them.

This time last year you were pretty concerned about the Bahrain situation. How do you feel this time?
I think that we need to give it a bit more time. Obviously we're a little bit wiser and it was quite new last time, wasn't it? Now it's not. The right decisions were made in the past, but I really hope we can go there and race, but the right decisions have been made before so let's see what happens.