Web­ber sets the pace in lead- up to grand prix

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

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.’’

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