Q & A with Mark Webber

Mark Webber has been under more pressure than most in the build-up to the 2009 season, having to recover from a broken leg and get up to speed at a time of dramatically reduced testing, and with man of the moment Sebastian Vettel arriving at Red Bull as his new teammate

Q & A with Mark Webber

After a difficult day of testing at Jerez yesterday, autosport.com heard Webber's thoughts on his physical condition and Red Bull's current progress.

Q. How did today go?

Mark Webber: Not that good actually. We did a few laps, we'd like to have done a few more. I wasn't that happy with the balance, so we've got a bit of work to do tonight. The bonus was the weather - we expected it to piss down and it didn't, so that was good. We did a bit of pit stop practice and checked things out with the race guys.

We had a problem with the clutch this afternoon. We knew we were having some problems with the clutch, and we tried to continue running but... Apart from that, not a bad day. Just need to get a bit more performance.

Q. How important was Red Bull's private test at Valencia last week?

MW: Everyone gets one private test obviously, so every mile you do these days is important. Again we were lucky with the weather, it was dry all week so we got some reasonable mileage in. I think it's good to go to a different track as well. It's probably a bit closer (in characteristics) to Melbourne, but it gives you some different problems as well that you need to look at.

There were a few little reliability things that we picked up that might have just been specific to Valencia, kerbs and a few things like that. It was interesting to go there and not just to Jerez and Barcelona. We missed Portugal, but it was good to go to Valencia and get another venue.

Q. How far away are you from an ideal set-up for the RB5?

MW: I haven't been really got back to where we were the first time I drove the car, when I was very, very happy with it. So we're looking into trying to extract that again. We know how sensitive these cars are and it's still early days, so we've got some work to do.

Q. How hectic was this winter been with the new testing restrictions?

MW: It's pretty busy, but it's the same for everyone. I know other people have got another test here after we used our Valencia test, but it's the same for everyone and we've got to make the most of every run and understand as much as we can. It is hectic, it's very different to what we were used to in the past - having two cars and a little bit more time - but it's the same for everyone.

Q. If you go in a wrong direction during these current tests, will it be difficult to recover at all during the season given the testing ban?

MW: I don't know that it's that drastic. Different track, different temperatures, when we go racing it's a new ball game. The ambient temperatures here will be different to what we have in Sepang, for example. Everyone will have a different idea of how to deal with those problems. It's still going to be a case of fighting to find lap time, as usual, when the season starts.

Q. What are your impressions of the rest of the field at the moment?

MW: I think that the group is still quite tight. It wasn't a great day for me today, but we've had some better days with the car. At the moment it looks like Toyota are up there. BMW are always hard to read. Last year they went to Melbourne and went 'bang' and were very, very quick, but they didn't show much in testing. Ferrari, McLaren - you can never discount them, and Williams as well.

So it's really tight, which is unbelievable considering the regulation change we've gone through. It's very impressive how everyone has a different idea but it looks like the lap times aren't too dissimilar. Keep in mind that people are going to have different packages between now and Melbourne, there will be some different things going on.

Q. How different will your car be in Melbourne?

MW: I think there will be some aerodynamic differences for sure. Everyone will have a different car. Conceptually it won't be massively different, you can only do so much, but we'll have some upgrades like every other team will, and I hope obviously they'll prove to be beneficial. You only want upgrades to go in one direction, and that's to improve. Sometimes we've had upgrades at some teams that don't go the way you want, but hopefully we'll continue in the right way.

Q. Are you using KERS at the moment?

MW: No. I think they're going to make a few more decisions about next week, but it looks tough.

Q. How is your leg?

MW: Good. The hardest thing is walking at the moment. I'm going quite good on the bike, I'm going easy on the car, rowing is good. My physical activities are not too bad. The biggest pain in the arse is walking at the moment because it's still a bit sore, but I have absolutely no problems at all with driving the car. I would much prefer to be like this than the other way around - walking beautifully but having problems in the car. So I'm doing my best to walk as best I can, but it still takes a bit of time.

Q. Are you doing the same as Johnny Herbert did after his big accident - prioritising getting back to racing but potentially at the cost of your fitness in the rest of your life?

MW: I think Johnny's injuries were a lot worse than mine to start with. I'm looking at both obviously, I want to be ready for Melbourne but I want to make sure I'm in pretty good shape when I'm 50.

Q. What will your programme be on Wednesday?

MW: Working on the balance really, I think that's the biggest thing. We've have some aerodynamic things to test, but just chipping away at the balance. We've got most of the race sim stuff out of the way, which obviously didn't got quite according to plan, but procedurally it did. We went through some procedures that we will be using in Melbourne, and the guys were happy with how that went. So now we can just work a bit more on testing, and of course mileage is another thing that we'll work on.

Q. Do you think the RB5 will be one of the positive surprises when you get to Melbourne?

MW: I hope so, but I always hope and sometimes you go there and get destroyed. I know the opposition is always tough at this level. We'll see.

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