Red hot Aussie Webber emulates hero Brabham
A happy Mark Webber stunned his rivals today when he extended the Red Bull team's run of pole positions to six out of six this season by dominating qualifying for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.india Updated: May 16, 2010 00:17 IST
A happy Mark Webber stunned his rivals on Saturday when he extended the Red Bull team's run of pole positions to six out of six this season by dominating qualifying for Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix.
The 33-year-old Australian, who took pole on his way to winning last Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix and hotly-tipped to mount a serious title challenge this year, clocked a best lap of one minute and 13.826 seconds - the only lap so far this weekend to break the 1:14 barrier.
He drove the lap in the closing 90 seconds of a hotly-contested session in which he finished on top ahead of Pole Robert Kubica of Renault and his Red Bull team-mate German Sebastian Vettel.
Webber is the first Australian on pole in Monaco since Jack Brabham in 1967 and has a chance to be the first winner in the Mediterranean principality since the same Brabham won in 1959. In 1967, from pole, Brabham finished among the ten men forced to retire in a 16-car field.
It was Webber's fourth career pole position and his second in succession on a day when the top three all claimed their places driving with Renault engines, proving that the French power-units have great driveability if not utter reliability.
"This is such a spectacular venue and a famous track so I am sure that I am going to wake up and feel happy tomorrow (Sunday) morning," said Webber
"This is such a drivers' circuit; such a test for us all. The barriers are right there and so very close all the way round the lap so you have to be very accurate and consistent.
"You have to trust yourself and trust your car and get the job done - here you really have to build up all the way through to Q3 without making any mistakes and that is what it is all about."
Webber did not refer directly to anyone, but the absence of two-times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari - who crashed heavily in the morning practice - spoke volumes in support of his theory.
Kubica was slightly disappointed to finish second after appearing to be close to pole.
"I am a little, bit upset because it was so close for us but it would have been a real surprise if we had got pole - they are so far ahead and showed it last week.
"Having said that, this is a great achievement for us, for Renault, and especially because even five months ago we were not sure that the team would exist much longer this year. It's a great day for us."
Vettel, clearly disappointed no longer to have a clear superiority over his senior team-mate, tried to make light of his feelings.
"I am not scared of him (Webber), he has a sore leg from breaking it last year and I am younger still - I can run faster, so I can beat him again," said the 22-year-old.
Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari was fourth-fastest ahead of the 2008 champion Briton Lewis Hamilton of McLaren and German Nico Rosberg in a Mercedes.
The seven-times champion German Michael Schumacher was seventh in the second Mercedes ahead of defending champion and current series leader Briton Jenson Button in the second McLaren.
Reflecting on his achievement and weighing up his prospects, Webber tried to combine satisfaction with modesty and keep his feet on the ground.
"To be up there achieving things that Jack Brabham achieved is special for me and difficult to take in just now," he said.
"He is a legend in the Webber house and if it was not for Jack Brabham I would not be here now.
"My dad followed him closely and was a big fan - he always followed open-wheeled racing much more than what we call 'taxi-racing' at home. He has been an inspiration and a friend and he has done a lot for me.
"But I am under no illusions about this weekend. I know there are two hours of tough racing ahead here tomorrow - and I have to get the job done."
He added that he hoped his experience would be helpful - and that it would therefore perhaps be an advantage against such youthful rivals around him on the grid.
"Yeh, you have to be careful, you have to use all your experience, and for me I need to get a clean race and just go out and do the job. Only then is there going to really be anything to talk about."
A win could hoist Webber into the forefront of the title fight if Button is unable to make a high-scoring impact on the race and Alonso, currently second, struggles from his starting position in the pit lane.
Vettel, however, is certain to have other ideas as he seeks to press home his own title challenge. He is currently third, with 60 points to Webber's 53, while Button leads on 70 ahead of Alonso on 67.
First Published: May 15, 2010 21:04 IST