Posts Tagged ‘Webber’

Spare a thought for Mark Webber. He is sitting in a car capable of winning this weekend and yet he starts the race from 18th on the grid because another driver, Adrian Sutil, blocked him on his hot lap in the first qualifying session. Not his fault and yet he loses out massively and the feeling here in Bahrain is that this is turning into a real problem, which could easily affect the world championship.

Last night the stewards penalised Sutil, who had weaved in front of Webber while warming his tyres for his own hot lap. He was dropped three places on the grid. But there is no mechanism for giving Webber back what he has lost. This is clearly unfair and needs to be addressed, because it’s going to happen more and more this season.

The reason is because Q1 is no longer a cruise for the fast cars. Everyone is on the limit to get through and almost everyone is having to use two sets of soft tyres just to be sure to get through. They are having to do two runs, so the track is very busy. And complicating things even more, because of the difference between the two types of tyre, which forces everyone to use the soft tyre for qualifying, we are seeing a variation in how it’s used, some drivers doing only one timed lap, some doing two. So drivers getting blocked is becoming more common.

It’s a bit like the safety car rules last year which unfairly penalised drivers forced to pit under a safety car caused by someone else’s accident. That rule was changed and something needs to be done to restore drivers who lose out in qualifying.

Fernando Alonso predicts that this is going to become a real talking point as the season goes on.
“It’s [getting through to Q2] more luck than anything else,” he says. “Traffic will always be a problem and you need to be lucky. Here especially we had some drivers doing two timed laps, some were doing only one timed lap and so you had a difference between them and you never knew what they were going to do until they come into the pits. It happened in China it happened here and I think it will happen a lot more in short circuits like Barcelona and Monaco. It will get very difficult in Q1.”

Webber was pretty sanguine about it. He hadn’t been having the best of days anyway and didn’t expect to match team mate Vettel,
“That’s motorsport, mate. It can happen, ” he said. “The good thing is we can bounce back from this, it;s a blip over the course of a long season, but these days it can happen. His [Sutil’s] team did a poor job for him, he thought I was on an out lap and he tried to block me, but I’d been coming for 40 seconds.”

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This is a question I have noticed that lot of my readers have been asking on search engines which have led them here, so I thought I’d do a quick post with the answer.

I had a word with a mate of mine who is an agent representing premiership footballers and I looked through my files on drivers and through the estimated figures in Formula Money, which has some good research into the financial side of the sport.

The answer is that the top drivers earn far more than the top premiership stars, but of course there are far more top footballers than F1 stars.

Top of the F1 tree is Kimi Raikkonen, who is believed to earn around $36 million £24m) per season, with Fernando Alonso on $24 million (£16m) and Lewis Hamilton understood to be on around £12 million. Jenson Button was trousering £12 million from Honda. Heikki Kovalainen gets around $5 million (£3.4m). A front of midfield driver, like Mark Webber, earns $4 million (£2.75m) with drivers like Kazuki Nakajima on around £500,000.

No premiership player is close to Raikkonen; the top earners like John Terry and Frank Lampard are on around £6 million per year, Steven Gerrard gets around £5 million. Christiano Ronaldo earns £4 million. Like F1, the sport rewards its stars disproportionately compared with the average competitor. The average premiership salary is £500,000 per year. All of these figures are for the salary, not including the endorsements that many drivers and players have.

So the bottom line is, the top premiership stars earn roughly the same as the midfield guys in F1.

It’s only a quick look at the picture, but hope that answers your question.

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Red Bull launches the new car on Monday in Jerez and they seem to be getting quite excited about it in the build up to the event. We’ve had Mark Webber saying that it’s the best looking of the 2009 cars so far and their website is pretty gushing about it. It talks about the car being a creation from the drawing board (literally because he still uses one) of Adrian Newey.

He’s overdue a real winner of a car and this year is a pretty vital one for the team as they have to take a serious step closer to the front-runners to justify the massive investment. They have been threatening to do it for some time, but it’s not materialised.

They had reliability issues with the 2007 car, while last year, although the car was reliable, they went the wrong way on development just as the car was starting to show some real speed. After Webber qualified on the front row in Silverstone and then spun on the opening lap, it never returned to those giddy heights and scored just five points after that, sliding to seventh in the championship. It didn’t help that the Renault engine was down on power compared to everyone else’s, not least Toro Rosso’s Ferrari unit. But that wasn’t the whole story.

The technical team under Newey and Geoff Willis has been given the time and space to bed in and now it’s time to deliver. A major set of rule changes gives the well funded midfield teams a chance to get it right and take a leap forward. You’d still expect Ferrari and McLaren to outdevelop them over a season, but it’s possible that a Red Bull could be on the front row in Melbourne if Newey and team have got their sums right.

I mentioned here before that his track record in his heyday was very good on rule changes, if you think of the 1996 Williams with the high cockpit sides and the 1998 McLaren, the first of the narrow track cars. So let’s see if he’s rediscovered his Muse. He and Willis form an impressive unit, as they did at Williams and I just sense from the confident noises coming out of the team that they feel they might have a shot at that elusive win this year.

Webber deserves a year in a really good car to show what he can do. I rate him highly for his speed, be just needs to show he can turn in consistent race performances week after week. He had a run of strong results in the first half of last season race, but then it frustratingly got away from them.

He’s been taking the rehabilitation from his broken leg, sustained in a cycling accident, very seriously. Apparently he uses a cryogenic chamber to speed up blood flow around the break. It sounds scary.

“I’ve been doing it for three weeks now,” says Mark on the Red Bull website. “You go from a normal, ambient room temperature into a chamber of -50ºC for about 30 seconds and then for another three minutes into -130ºC.

“It’s very good for your general well-being, your immune system, and apparently for cellulite. Not much of a worry for me … but it’s very good for the whole body.”

Maybe he’s taking in a little botox and a tummy tuck while he’s at it! Anyway, he’s really going to be up against it this year because in Sebastien Vettel, RBR have a superb talent. His ability in the wet and in changeable conditions is well known, but then Rubens Barrichello excelled in those conditions too. The question is does he have all the other tricks in his locker?

What we started to see from Vettel in the final part of the season was sustained, consistent speed and an ability to make things happen, two of the most vital components for a Grand Prix front-runner. If he also has a strong mentality, which we’ll find out this year, then he could be the real deal, as Bernie believes him to be.

Anyway, this morning those cunning boys and girls from Red Bull marketing posted this animated film of the new car, with a voice over from Vettel. It’s a great explanation of the 2009 rule changes, a sneak peak at what the new car will look like (or so they make out) and a brilliant animation of how KERS works. Take a look:

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Get well soon, Mark

I was shocked to hear about Mark Webber’s savage accident today. On a fast descent on his bicycle, he collided head on with a 4WD vehicle while competing in his Tasmania Challenge. It sounds like a really nasty shunt and it left his right leg badly broken. He has had surgery to repair it, a metal pin inserted and it will be a lengthy rehabilitation. It’s probably along the lines of the surgery Barry Sheene had and although there is no bright side to an accident like this, it’s probably just very fortunate that it was not his left leg, which is the braking leg for an F1 driver. There are many corners in F1 where the driver needs to put 90kg of pressure into the brake pedal, so the left leg needs to be very strong and it would take more to rehabilitate that one, I’d imagine.

Mark is a very keen cyclist, he rides road and mountain bikes as part of his training for F1 and this event in Tasmania is a really stiff physical challenge. He’s the kind of bloke who likes to push himself to the limit physically and doesn’t hide from a challenge. He’s relentessly self critical too. Earlier this year he went riding with Lance Armstrong in the hills around Monaco and related how Lance said to him, ‘Right, now it’s time to go into the hurt box,” at which point he took off up a steep incline, pushing his body to the limit. Webber went after him and said later he knew exactly what “the hurtbox’ was that day!

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