Webber moves into top 10 in World Drivers Championship
7 July 2003 | 1:14am
For immediate release July 6, 2003
WEBBER MOVES INTO TOP 10 IN WORLD DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP
Two sixth places for Webber within a week as Jaguar driver
finishes sixth in French Grand Prix
Mark Webber moved into the top 10 in the F1 World Drivers Championship after finishing sixth for the second race running in today's French Grand Prix at Magny Cours. The 26-year old Jaguar Racing driver also finished sixth in last weekend's European Grand Prix and his recent points haul has moved the Australian into ninth place in the championship on 12 points, one point behind Renault's Jarno Trulli. Webber's efforts have also lifted Jaguar Racing into sixth place in the Constructors Championship (12 points), one point behind BAR as the series heads to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix in two weeks times.
Prior to the start of the race, Webber said the most he was expecting from today's Grand Prix was a race against the Toyota of Olivier Panis, who started alongside him on the grid in 10th position. But, as it turned out, Webber got away smartly at the lights and with team-mate, Antonio Pizzonia, managing to get himself ahead of the Toyota driver too, the threat from Panis never materialised.
Instead, Webber was up into eighth spot by the end of the opening lap after Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello spun almost in front of him. The Jaguar driver then managed to keep the Renaults of Trulli and Fernando Alonso within his sights while at the same time pulling away from Pizzonia. At the end of the first stint, Webber was only 2.9s behind Alonso when he pitted on lap 16.
Webber maintained his eighth place after the first round of stops, and although the deficit to Alonso had grown to 7.8s by the time of the second pit stops, Webber was still pushing hard and during the middle stint set a series of personal best laps, his best lap of the race coming on lap 47 with a time of 1:17.068s. He then moved into sixth place after Renault's hopes for success on home soil were dashed when both Alonso and Trulli retired within two laps of one another.
Webber pitted for the third and final time on lap 48. And, with only the Williamses of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard ahead of him, and no challenge coming from Rubens Barrichello behind, Webber was comfortably placed for the remainder of the race and took the chequered flag still on the same lap as race winner Ralf Schumacher.
"It was a very, very strong race for us," said Webber afterwards, "although we were very lucky prior to the first stop as we lost fuel pressure in the last sector. However, we got to the stop with just enough on board. After that, I ended up behind da Matta and Barrichello who were both slow although I think Rubens was being slowed by Cristiano. After they pitted, I got some good free space and my remaining stops worked well. I was working
on putting pressure on the Renaults - as that was all I could really hope to do - but then they both dropped out which ended that battle.
"After the last pit stop, the boys came on the radio and said I was looking really, really good for a top six finish and just to look after it. The car was really good in the race and very enjoyable to drive. Once again, the team did an awesome job and made it easy for me. It's great to bag another three points and to be able to keep chipping away in the drivers and