Q & A with Mark Webber

Mark Webber cut a disappointed figure after qualifying fifth for the title decider in Abu Dhabi, two places back from his chief championship rival Fernando Alonso. The Australian's Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel, another contender, will also start the race ahead of him from pole, while Lewis Hamilton joined the German on the front row

Q & A with Mark Webber

But while Webber admitted afterwards that he was unhappy with his qualifying effort, he remained confident that the destiny of the drivers' title is far from set in stone, and expressed his intention to fight tooth-and-nail for it on Sunday.

Speaking to the press afterwards, Webber explained why there was still everything to fight for, despite Alonso's eight-point lead and grid advantage. AUTOSPORT was there to hear what he had to say.

Q. How much of the decision to do a single run was down to the team, and how much was it down to the drivers?

Mark Webber: Collectively as drivers and team, that was our way to do it. We could not really do the first lap on the tyres like the others guys could. Maybe our runs were a little bit long, but the tyres were performing pretty well over a set period so we felt like we were getting quicker and quicker.

It was a strange situation, and we saw it a bit last year here at this track. It can be a bit of an odd ball in terms of how the tyres work, and that was the case again tonight. In the end, I think McLaren did one timed lap each, so that is what they elected to do. Fernando also had his best lap on one timed lap.

I did not expect to be fifth, I expected to be further up. But that is what happened. The stop watch starts at the beginning of the session, it ends at the end of the session and that is where I am. Of course I am not rapt with the qualifying today. Q1 and Q2 and P3 all looked okay, it was the crucial session that did not come together for us, which is a shame.

In the end, if I was on pole, I am still not world champion. Tomorrow is the day when they are going to hand it out so I am still perfectly positioned to capitalise on any misfortune or someone has big tyre degradation, pit stops, safety cars - I can get amongst anything there still. So let's see how it goes. At the moment of course I am still disappointed but that is human nature.

Q. Do you know where the time was lost in sector two? It is the main straights and a few slow corners - so is that a downforce reason?

MW: I haven't had a look at it compared to Sebastian but I know I lost a bit of time compared to him there. It is a top-line speed thing compared to McLaren, for sure, that is where we have been losing a lot to McLaren.

The last two or three minutes were not the best for me. I didn't have the performance in myself or the car and we need to have a look where it is. But it is one of the first times this year I have looked at the pit board and said, 'I really cannot do that time'. Because most of the time I can always react to the pit board with the lap time and get back in the fight, but tonight in the last Q3 I could not do that.

Q. You were dominant in Spain and Monaco, where do you think you've lost a bit of confidence with the car?

MW: No, I haven't. I think people forget that I was six hundredths off winning Suzuka qualifying. Brazil was very close and every time Sebastian has won a race I have been two seconds behind him. We live by the sword and it is not like he is 25 seconds down the road and I've forgotten how to drive. Obviously I would love to have had some victories of late, but I have done everything I can do get those. In the end, I haven't got them because I haven't deserved them. It is as simple as that.

We won in Budapest with quite a nice drive, we won at Silverstone so not a bad drive. I could be sitting here with no victories, like Felipe [Massa] but I have a few. So it is not too bad.

Q. Fernando Alonso knows he cannot afford to finish behind you tomorrow. How aggressive do you think you are going to have to be to get past him?

MW: Look, I need to finish ahead of him. And also if I don't finish, I don't win the championship either. So, it is the same for all three of us. Lewis [Hamilton] would like all three of us not to finish, and then maybe he wins. But the script is impossible to predict tomorrow. Let's have a look at the end, and the world champion - one second after the race they will give it to him, whoever he is.

Q. You still seem fairly upbeat there, is that what you feel inside?

MW: You know, if I am sitting here and I am third on the grid it would be pretty similar, wouldn't it? If I finish one position in front of Fernando or one position behind it is not enough. I need to win, or him to have problems, which was totally obvious after Brazil. Nothing has really changed in that sense. He is there, because he has been there for the last five races. So for us to come here and think we were going to drive away from him - it was not going to be the case.

Q. How much can you still believe in the title tonight?

MW: Quite a bit. It is not handed out yet. So, if it was a one lap race it would maybe be not so good. But it is a two hour race and things can change.

Q. Is it easier or more complicated with the McLaren drivers up there?

MW: Dunno mate, the same.

Q. Did you have the same set-up as Seb?

MW: Pretty similar.

Q. The championship is won or lost over 19 races. Will you rue this qualifying?

MW: No. I could have crashed in Spa when it was sprinkling in Q3 but I didn't - I got pole position. As you say, mate, it is over 12 months of hard work. You cannot just pin one point. You are never in with a chance of winning the world championship if you are not performing over the whole season, which is what I have done and why I am in with a chance of winning the championship. To criticise one qualifying session - if you look at some qualifying sessions of Fernando this year, they were not so good. It happens. For sure it is disappointing, but it's where I qualified and it is where I start the race and it is a long grand prix tomorrow. But for me to sit there tomorrow night and say, 'I didn't win the championship because I didn't qualify second on the grid'... is wrong.

Q. Do you think the pressure of this weekend can explain some of your bad performance today?

MW: No. No.

Q. Will you be looking at the mathematics tonight to see where you need to finish tomorrow?

MW: We will just see who is there at the end tomorrow on the last lap. I think I will know starting the last lap if I am world champion or not.

Q. Have you talked things through with Seb about the circumstances under which he will or will not help you?

MW: No.

Q. Being down in sector two, does that leave you a bit concerned about overtaking?

MW: It is the most important sector to overtake on, but if some people have issues with their tyres then the rest of the track can also open up some options. But sector two is the main part of the track to get the moves down.

Q. How good is your car tyre degradation wise?

MW: Pretty good.

Q. No matter what happens tomorrow, looking back to your Formula Ford days, thinking that you would one day be fighting for a world title at the final round, that's pretty gratifying isn't it?

MW: Absolutely. I think as I have always said, it is human nature that you always want more. If you win one race, you want two. Then you want three, then you want four. Then you want six, seven or ten - so where does it stop? I've had an incredible season and I am not sitting here being pessimistic that I don't get the championship, I am sitting here saying I have ticked a lot of big boxes this year and that is something I am very proud of. And I hope I can still perform incredibly well tomorrow and get the icing on the cake. Sundays normally have been very good for me, with the exception of two races this year. So, all in all, a lot of positive - and I think they outweigh the negatives for sure.

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