Webber Targets Maiden Podium

Williams driver Mark Webber has vowed to put his cracked rib troubles and his Malaysian Grand Prix crash with Giancarlo Fisichella firmly behind him to land his maiden Formula One podium in Bahrain this weekend

Webber Targets Maiden Podium

Raring to return to action after sitting out last week's test at Barcelona in Spain, Webber is upbeat about Williams' prospects at Sakhir and believes the team are firmly in the hunt with McLaren and Toyota to take the challenge to pace-setters Renault.

"I hope we can sniff for it," said Webber, when asked about his podium prospects. "Toyota are strong and with McLaren we haven't seen really what they can do yet - but they are the quick teams. I think it is Renault and then after that, Williams, Toyota and McLaren are very close. It would be nice to try and get ahead of that group and get ahead of the Renaults."

Although Williams bosses had predicted a tough start to the campaign on the back of problems with the team's new wind tunnel, Webber and teammate Nick Heidfeld have challenged at the front - with the latter taking third place in Malaysia.

"We are surprised at where we are, which is good, but you never want to lift off," added Webber. "We have got some stuff coming through which is obviously going to help us and the improvement is there. Williams have shown in the past that they  can ramp up in the season quite well and BMW have done a good job of the engine, so it is going alright."

Speaking about the  Ferrari threat, now that the team have decided to introduce their new car, Webber said: "It is impossible to say. They were very slow in Malaysia.  It was very unusual and it was good to see them having a hard time. We all like to try and win but it is good that Ferrari are going through a bit of a lean patch. But that is when they are strongest and they will be back."

Webber remains confident that his rib injury, which required pain killing injections in the first two races of the year, is now sufficiently healed to not cause him any trouble in Bahrain.

"It's a lot better than it was the last few weeks," he said. "It has settled down now  and gone. It was alright (in Malaysia) when the adrenaline got going. It is actually just pre and post, when you are out of the car.

"It didn't affect my  driving at all, just the sleeping and all the boring little things like doing shoelaces up and things like that. It just does your head in."

Reflecting on his crash with Fisichella at Sepang, that robbed him of a chance of grabbing that first podium finish, Webber said: "I was disappointed, but that's what happens.

"It was just a split second decision that we both made together.  We went in there and Giancarlo was the car underneath me and damaged my car. I am disappointed. It is not like we were scrapping for tenth position, we were scrapping for third. But we will  have other opportunities."

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