Strong drive nets Webber points in Germany
31 May 2004 | 8:33am
For immediate release May 29, 2004
STRONG DRIVE NETS WEBBER POINTS IN GERMANY
Mark Webber gave Jaguar Racing its best result of the season so far, when he drove
a gritty race to finish seventh in the 60-lap European Grand Prix at Nurburgring, Germany this afternoon. The result is a great boost for both the team and Webber after a frustrating start to the season, and gives Webber a further two championship points to the one he earned at Bahrain. Mark is now 12th in the Drivers’ Championship while the team is eighth in the Constructors’, one point behind Toyota as the series heads to Canada and the USA.
Penalised one second on his Saturday qualifying time following a minor yellow flag indiscretion on Friday, the 27-year old Australian started 14th on the grid but fell to the back of the pack at the lights after another poor start. Although his R5 initially got away, it bogged down metres later and Webber was caught and passed by those behind him.
Meanwhile, a first lap skirmish eliminated Ralf Schumacher and Cristiano da Matta while Juan Pablo Montoya was forced to pit to replace his front wing. Webber managed to pass the two Minardis at the first corner and then Sauber’s Giancarlo Fisichella (who had elected to start at the back following a change of engine earlier in the weekend) at turn seven, to run comfortably in13th spot, just behind the Jordans of Nick Heidfeld and Giorgio Pantano, and his own team-mate Christian Klien.
Having re-adjusted his strategy to accommodate his penalty, Webber opted for a two stop race and when the first round of stops began for those three-stopping, Webber shot up the order and was sixth when he pitted for the first time at the end of lap 17. Once the race order had settled down again, Webber had leap-frogged Klien and the Jordans to move into 10th although he conceded a further spot to the recovering Montoya until the Columbian pitted a couple of laps later.
Webber stayed out while the second round of stops took place, and moved ahead of Toyota’s Olivier Panis on lap 24. Two laps later, the McLaren of David Coulthard (also on a two-stopper from the back of the grid) expired in a plume of smoke, promoting Webber into eighth.
Webber pitted for the final time on lap 37 but when he rejoined, he incurred the wrath of world champion, Michael Schumacher who was coming up to lap him, the two almost touching at the first corner.
After hearing Schumacher speak out in the post-race media conference, Webber responded, “I had the situation totally under control and I made the apex at turn one fine. The timing was very difficult for me. I knew Michael was there but had I totally cooperated with him, it could have comprised my own battle with Giancarlo for seventh spot. So, the best thing for me to do was to do my out lap as normal and let Michael through when I got the blue flags to do so. I would do exactly the same again.”
Indeed, Webber was in the midst of a great scrap with Fisichella, both drivers having started the race with heavy fuel loads but the Sauber driver managing to go an extra five laps each stop.
A spectacular engine failure in Takumo Sato’s BAR (while he was fifth) later promoted Webber to seventh, a position he was able to maintain comfortably until the finish.
“I’m very happy with the result,” said a relieved Webber,”I didn’t get the best of starts and was second last into the first corner. I had a bit of a battle with Juan Pablo on my out lap after my first pit stop when he ran off the track in front of me, but it was a fair enough scrap. His car was a bit of a handful and he was trying to get to the pits.
“Points are not easy to get these days and realistically, I think that’s all we can really expect at the moment. Our performance is not too bad and if we can just improve our reliability a little bit more, we might be able to scrap in a few more points – but seventh and eighth positions are probably our lot.”
- Ends -