For immediate release
September 14, 2003
Mark Webber said before the start of today’s Italian Grand Prix that he would be “absolutely blown away” if he could come away from Monza with one championship point in the bag, after struggling all weekend with the pace of the Jaguar R4. As it turned out, the 27-year old Australian went one place better by taking seventh place in the 53-lap race and two hard-fought points to increase his season’s tally to 17. His latest result means he’s now strengthened his ninth place in the World Drivers’ Championship to a five point advantage over Jenson Button with two races remaining.
Unfortunately, Jacques Villeneuve’s sixth place finish has moved BAR into fifth place in the Constructors Championship ahead of Jaguar Racing.
Webber made a superb start from 11th on the grid and managed to drive around the BARs of Button and Villeneuve into the first chicane but ultimately ended up in 10th place at the field completed their first lap.
“I got a good start and moved ahead of the two BARS and then tried to get Marc Gene at the first chicane. But I got a bad exit out of there so JV got me back while Jenson re-passed me by basically going over the top of the second chicane. It was a bit cheeky but no real problem if that’s how he wanted to do it!”
Sauber’s Heinz Harald Frentzen managed to leap-frog Mark after his first pit stop on lap 13 but when Button retired on lap 23, Mark found himself back in the top 10. “Unfortunately I lost a position to Heinz-Harald on my out lap after the stop when I thought I had an issue with my steering and had a shocking lap. After that, it was just a case of trying to create as much pressure as possible on him.”
Mark closed the gap on Frentzen to 0.4s before pitting for the final time on lap 33, and then rejoined 1.7 seconds behind the German. The subsequent retirements of Toyota’s Olivier Panis and McLaren’s David Coulthard in the final stint of the race played nicely into Webber’s hands for an eighth place finish, while the icing on the cake came in the shape of Frentzen retiring a couple of laps to go.
“Fluky stuff but we’ll take that,” admitted Webber afterwards, “It was very difficult to do anything about Frentzen as we were struggling with some high-speed oversteer and, therefore, it was hard to get any closer to him than I did. Then, for the first time we had a bit of luck go our way and got that extra point when Heinz-Harald retired.
“There was a bit of attrition at the front, with DC, the two Toyotas and Jarno not finishing, so it was good to stay the distance and pick up a couple of points at the flag. The weekend turned out a lot better than I had expected.”
- Ends -
Mark Webber is the Team Principal of MW Arden, a three car team in the new GP3 series supporting European Grands Prix.