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Archive for the tag “Mark Webber”

Mark’s mates mate (well, most of ’em…)

He does say it. Frequently:  “He’s my mate’s mate, mate.”  And I guess that’s what I like most about Mark Webber. He’s your mate – and he’s a mate of your mates. Which means, in Australian, that he’s usually having a laugh and usually looking out for the next bloke. I’ll miss him in the F1 pit-lane, and on the circuit – but I’ll enjoy watching him next year with Porsche. In the meantime, and in addition to our interview with Mark on the show this week, here, in Mark’s own words, are some pen-portraits of some of the key figures from his career.  For more insight from the man himself, visit www.markwebber.com Read more…

The final race

I was fortunate to be able to spend a little time with Mark Webber as he prepared for his last F1 race – the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.  We met early on Friday morning, at the Grand Hyatt in Sao Paulo, and chatted together en route to the circuit.  Mark’s demeanour, I think, said it all:  he was happy with his decision to retire from F1;  equally, he is looking forward not only to some time off with family, friends and menagerie but also to a new challenge with Porsche in 2014.

Abu Dhabi reflections

In Parts Two and Three of this week’s show – specially segmented for YouTube viewers – we have a look at some of the pits-to-car radio transmissions and what they actually meant for the drivers. Rob Wilson remains in the studio to help me analyse some of the instructions and we’re joined, too, by Giedo van der Garde, the Dutchman who is starting to look very suited to an F1 grid. Most of the talk is directly related to last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but there’s always room for reflection!  Enjoy – and remember that you can now see (or listen to) the complete version of Episode 36 as an iTunes download.

Why Seb is so quick

I was looking through the LAT Photographic website the other day for some nice Red Bull action when I came upon these two images, courtesy of Alastair Staley. They were both taken during the race in India at the Turn 8/9 complex – a right-left change of direction of the type that in recent years has become a Seb Vettel signature section.  I had to look twice, I have to confess, when I noted Seb’s head position. I rang Alastair to confirm that both photos were indeed taken during the race (ie, that Seb wasn’t on a formation lap) and that they were both travelling at racing speed (ie, that they weren’t behind a Safety Car).  As you can see, the two photos captured almost exactly the same piece of road (which was fortunate, because Alastair then moved slightly, rendering further comparisons slightly more difficult). 2013 Indian Grand Prix - Sunday2013 Indian Grand Prix - SundayWhilst Mark is still looking at “the corner”, and looks to be carrying a little more load, Seb is already lining up for T9.  His car also appears to be “flatter” and carrying slightly less lateral load.  As we chatted, Alastair allowed that he had often noticed Seb’s very different mid-corner head position but that it was difficult to capture this. We’re talking a millisecond here, a moment in time.  I dare say that other great drivers have in the past “been able to get their corners over sooner”; it’s only now that we are in the digital age that the law of averages is coming into play. I don’t profess to have all the answers – and nor does Rob Wilson, who openly admits that he is learning something new (about the business of driving) every day. I could think of no-one better than Rob, though, to analyse these two photos. As well as winning all over the world in a variety of motor racing disciplines, Rob has coached, or coaches, many of today’s stars, including Giedo van der Garde, with whom we talk in Part 3 of this week’s show, Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez, Pastor Maldonado, Kevin Magnussen and – right back in his Formula Renault days – Kimi Raikkonen.

I think you will enjoy his detailed observations (below) in Part 1 of The Racer’s Edge, Episode 36.

The beauty of Suzuka’s Esses

2013 Japanese Grand Prix - SaturdayIt’s always a pleasure to watch the uphill Esses section at Suzuka during qualifying – particularly during qualifying because race conditions frequently restrict a driver’s pace and movement to the car he is following. In qualifying, though, when usually the air is free, it is different.  And, for the most part, they’re all trying pretty hard.

I love this section of road not because of one particular corner, although Turn Six is, of course, critical: a perfect exit from T6 sets you up nicely for the straight that leads down to the two Degnas. I love it because it is impossible to be perfect through T6 unless you correctly manipulate the exit of T2, T3, T4 and T5.  The usual errors are to be too quick in these preceding places. We saw Nico Hulkenberg be consistently so on all his runs: he was either a fraction too fast out of T2 or having to use too much road out of T4.  He caught it all, of course;  Nico does that.  In a millisecond, though, he had “asked too much of the car”. Additional energy had poured into the loaded front or rear Pirelli (depending upon steering angle). Momentum, fractionally, had gone.

Romain was similarly slightly-over-the-top. He has this sumptuous way of being able to use the rear of the car to re-set the values but, in doing so, he also creates too much excess energy. He’s got torque and twist going on at the rear in the middle of, say, T4;  the E21 looks perfectly-poised…but in reality it’s not “flat” on the road. It’s a subtle thing, only visible when you see the car on the corner as a whole. You’d never touch it via the on-boards or via close-ups. Kimi?  Kimi on Saturday to my eye looked to be a slightly edgier version of the real one. He never demanded too much from the tyres but his inputs seemed strangely more angular than usual. Perhaps it’s just a Kimi thing these days:  the “real” guy gets out of bed on Sunday.

I’ll talk more about all this on next week’s show. Here, I’d like to say “chapeau” to Mark Webber. He consistently – from Friday onwards – found exactly the right balance between short-term, up-the-hill pace and perfection by T6. This was classic Webber, back where he used to beat Seb on equal terms. No pesky, dumb, chicanes; no boring corners. (The Suzuka Chicane, with it’s downhill, open-space approach, is actually quite an interesting section of road:  the key, after the rush of 130R, is not to brake too early.) Just a lovely section of medium-speed road with blind entries. Lewis similarly threaded the needle – and so, but to a slightly lesser extent, did Seb Vettel, Jenson Button and Valtteri Bottas, although Jenson seemed to want a little more from Ts 4 and 5 than they were ever going to give him. Perhaps that’s why he later described his laps as “fun”. I also liked Lewis’ “feel” for the wind change on Saturday at Suzuka. Trust him immediately to use this to his advantage; trust some others to use it as some sort of explanation as to why they were less-than-perfect.

Image of Mark Webber, Suzuka, Saturday, October 12: LAT Photographic

On taxi rides and slow chicanes

In this week’s post-Singapore episode of The Racer’s Edge, we talk to Derek Warwick about those reprimands; to GP2 winner and Mercedes F1 Third Driver, Sam Bird, about his success this year and the styles of Nico and Lewis; and Rob Wilson, our favourite driver coach, analyses Sebastian Vettel’s approach to those most boring of corners – the slow chicanes.  Hope you like it.

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