F1: Red Bull Investigating Webber's Australia Struggle Photo:
Mike Stevens | Mar, 30 2011 | 0 Comments

Red Bull has vowed to get to the bottom of Mark Webber's lack of pace in Australia last weekend.

While his teammate Sebastian Vettel dominated the field, Webber struggled in the sister car, moving team consultant Helmut Marko to surmise that the Australian's RB7 may have had a chassis fault.

"They were in different worlds," Ferrari test driver Marc Gene wrote in his El Mundo column.

Confirmed team boss Christian Horner: "We need to go through things with a fine tooth comb. That was the biggest gap we've seen between the two of them that I can certainly think of."

Webber's father Alan admitted the 34-year-old's mood was "flat" when he realised he was so far behind Vettel's pace.

"I won't be lining myself up for races like the one I've just had every weekend," Webber said.

"The telemetry after the race gave us a few pointers, but we really need to strip the car down to see if there was something seriously wrong," he added.

Horner continued: "We found some front wing damage that might have had an effect, but to what extent is difficult to quantify.

"We need to get the car back, look at the data, understand if there is anything that was damaged, how it affected the car, and make sure they're both back to business as usual in Malaysia," he added.

But Webber acknowledged the possibility that he was to blame.

"Of course you have got to look at everything, including yourself," he admitted.



Rivals Will Struggle To Catch Red Bull: Briatore

Flavio Briatore has issued a sober warning to Red Bull's rivals after the 2011 season opener.

"You don't recover all those tenths in two months," the former Renault team boss told La Politica. "Half a second in formula one is huge.

"Red Bull are very well financed so I see it hard for them (the others) to play catch-up," said Briatore.

Others in the paddock are similarly pessimistic, like Mercedes' Nico Rosberg, who when asked by Bild newspaper if anyone can threaten Red Bull soon simply answered: "Nein (no)."

Yet McLaren and Ferrari are more confident, with the British team's boss Martin Whitmarsh insisting that the MP4-26 made a one-second improvement in pace in the two weeks before Melbourne.

"If we make as much progress in the next ten days as in the last ten, it'll be easy, won't it?" he joked to The Independent newspaper.



Vettel Not As Good As Mansell: Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has admitted he thinks Nigel Mansell is a better driver than reigning champion and 2011 title leader Sebastian Vettel.

After recently saying Vettel's currently dominant team Red Bull is "just a drinks company", McLaren driver Hamilton has now admitted he rates his nemesis Fernando Alonso higher.

"I see him (Alonso) as my Prost ... if you were to say 'choose a driver' I would clearly choose Ayrton (Senna). And maybe I would put him as Prost," Hamilton told British newspapers.

But what about Vettel, who has taken Hamilton's record as the youngest ever world champion and last weekend easily won the 2011 opener from pole?

"I don't think so," the 26-year-old is quoted by the Guardian.

"If he continues to have a car like he does now then, maybe, but I think when we get equal pace then we will see some serious racing. Maybe he (Vettel) is the new Mansell? Not that I would rate him like I do Mansell," added Hamilton.

The salvos were also firing from the other direction, after Hamilton said he was confident about catching Red Bull this year because McLaren is the better team at car development.

"Of course he would say that, otherwise he might as well not turn up for the next race," Red Bull team boss Christian Horner is quoted as saying by L'Equipe.

"But does he really believe it? McLaren has made great progress recently, it's a great team and they were always good at developing their car during a season.

"But we were better than them in this area last year and we are determined to do the same again," added Horner.



Ferrari Identifies Downforce Issue On 2011 Car

Ferrari is working hard after the 2011 season opener, where in Australia the team's 150 Italia car was notably less competitive than it had seemed during the recent winter period.

"I was not surprised that Red Bull were so good, but that we were so bad," admitted Fernando Alonso, according to Bild.

Team boss Stefano Domenicali said a problem of too little front downforce, which affected the balance of the car and its ability to preserve the Pirelli tyres, has been identified.

"We need to understand why we did not see on the track what we could see on paper," he is quoted by La Stampa newspaper.

"But we must be realistic that if Red Bull confirm their pace, the gap cannot be recovered in Malaysia," added Domenicali.

Fernando Alonso, however, insists that his title is on track.

"To win the title you need 13.4 points per race," said the Spaniard. "I got 12 (in Australia) so that's almost average.

"Yes I lost points to Hamilton and Vettel, but I gained against two other rivals for the championship, Webber and Button."

Commentators outside the famous team paint a different picture, like Spanish engineer Joan Villadelprat, who said Ferrari is "nowhere near where they thought they would be".

"They have a lot less downforce than Red Bull because they built a car that is too conservative with no risk.

"However, Ferrari knows how to develop and the base is good and reliable."

Alonso thinks Melbourne might have been a one-off.

"We did something wrong, because all winter we were a second ahead of Toro Rosso, Sauber and Renault, and today we were fighting to beat them," he told La Sexta.



FIA Glitch Grounded Barrichello's Wing In Australia

An FIA glitch marred the start of Rubens Barrichello's Australian Grand Prix, Williams has revealed.

Immediately after the Melbourne race, the British team said the Brazilian driver had "problems with the sector settings on the moveable rear wing".

To Auto Motor und Sport, team manager Dickie Stanford elaborated: "Something in the race control system was wrong.

"Barrichello couldn't use his rear wing on the home straight even though a few times he was close enough to the car in front.

"It was (mistakenly) programmed for the second sector," said Stanford.

He said the team told Barrichello not to use the wing in sector two while Williams communicated to race control by email to have the glitch cleared.

"That's why I took so long to get past Heidfeld," said Barrichello.

Glitch aside, the paddock as a whole is reacting cautiously to the debut of the 'drag reduction system' after Melbourne, a circuit featuring only a short main straight.

"We need to wait," Ferrari's Stefano Domenicali is quoted by Turun Sanomat, while Red Bull boss Christian Horner commented: "It didn't have much effect but it's too early to evaluate."

Fernando Alonso told La Stampa: "The wing helped me to pass Rosberg, but not Button. If the pace gap between the cars is 2-3 tenths only, it's not enough to pass."


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