Webber sets the pace in lead- up to grand prix
THE best news for Mark Webber as he prepares for tomorrow’s Australian Formula One Grand Prix is that there is no bad news.
The Australian showed he had lost none of the pace that carried him to four grand prix victories in 2010, setting the fastest time in yesterday’s first practice session and then producing a fast, if slightly uncontrolled, effort in the second.
‘‘ We got some decent laps in and dodged the Melbourne showers,’’ Webber said
‘‘ A pretty good day’s work, no real problems and some positives.
‘‘ We got through everything
we needed to.’’ Webber always seemed to have some time in hand in his first public test of the modifications made to his car under the new F1 regulations.
But he admitted he still needed to master some of the new design features, particularly the moveable rear wing that is intended to increase the potential for overtaking.
Webber said he tested the wing under simulated race conditions during practice without complete success.
‘‘ I had a little bit of a go in a race situation with Lewis ( Hamilton) and it wasn’t as straightforward as you might have thought,’’ Webber said.
The moveable wing, o f f i c i a l l y known as the drag reduction system ( DRS), operates similarly to the flaps on a plane, but can only be used on certain sections of the racetrack and only when race control says so.
Webber said he still had some work to do to get the best out of the DRS, but was confident all would be well in tomorrow’s race.
His teammate, reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, was less complimentary about the new system, saying an F1 driver’s job was already complex enough without having to perform additional tasks while trav- elling at 300km/ h. On a more positive note, Webber said he was pleasantly surprised at the performance of the new Pirelli tyres all teams will use this year.
‘‘ The tyres were a surprise for me, they look a little more stable than they were in winter testing,’’ Webber said.
While Webber’s overall performance proved satisfactory, his second s e s s i o n f e a t u r e d a n u mb e r o f unplanned exits from the track. But he made light of the excursions. ‘‘ I just ran out of talent,’’ he said. ‘‘ Luckily the grass is nice and soft, so the car stayed fine.’’