Webber bags points for sixth in Bahrain
4 April 2005 | 12:57am
For immediate release April 3, 2005
Despite a strong start to the 57-lap Bahrain Grand Prix when he gained fourth place at the first corner from team-mate, Nick Heidfeld, and then moved into third when Michael Schumacher retired, Mark Webber had to ultimately settle for sixth place at the chequered flag after a high-speed slide at turn 10 damaged his tyres.
The incident left the Australian struggling with a badly vibrating car for the remainder of the race and although Webber drove as hard as he could - keeping Pedro de la Rosa behind him for eight laps - he finally succumbed to the much quicker McLaren driver at turn four with just three laps remaining.
After qualifying sixth fastest yesterday, Webber fulfilled his goal of qualifying in the top five in this morning’s final session, posting a time of 1:32.670s to give him a combined time of 3:03.262s, 2/100ths of a second slower than Heidfeld. Current championship leader, Fernando Alonso, secured pole ahead of Michael Schumacher in the new Ferrari and Jarno Trulli (Toyota).
Webber got away cleanly at the lights and passed Heidfeld into the first corner. Although there was little he could do about the pace of those ahead of him, he was to inherit third place when Schumacher retired on lap 11.
In the opening stint, Webber kept a comfortable gap over Ralf Schumacher while behind, Heidfeld was engaged in a dice with McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Webber headed to the pits for his first scheduled stop on lap 21 and had maintained his third place when the race order resumed. However, Raikkonen in fourth place was lapping quicker and on lap 33, Webber had a big lock-up at turn 10 and slid off the track. He managed to rejoin the track but had lost position to both Raikkonen and Ralf Schumacher, relegating him to 5th.
Webber pitted again on lap 42 and then spent the rest of the race defending his position from the noticeably faster de la Rosa. For eight laps, Webber managed to keep the Spaniard behind him but with three laps remaining, de la Rosa got the edge at turn four and Webber had to concede the position.
“I got a good start,” said Webber, “but I couldn’t live with the pace of the first three. So, I just tried to put some pace into Nick and Ralf Schumacher, even though Ralf was running lighter in the first stint. In the second stint, I was trying absolutely everything to get to the second stop as soon as possible and unfortunately put a half a wheel on the dirt on the entry to turn 10, and couldn’t get it back. I didn’t want to flat-spot the tyres so I had to get off the brakes as quickly as possible but the damage was already done, and after
that it was very tough to drive with the vibration. Pedro was very quick and kept coming at me. I managed to keep him behind for eight laps but then he ranged up alongside me at turn four and quite simply, it was his corner for the taking.”
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