For immediate release
May 18, 2003
Despite starting the Austrian Grand Prix from the pit lane and incurring a 10-second penalty for a refuelling infringement in between the formation lap of the aborted race and the start of the race proper, Jaguar Racing’s Mark Webber kept his head to drive into the points for the second race running, finishing seventh to claim a further two championship points. He also recorded the third fastest lap of the race, 1min 08.966s, only 6/10ths off race winner Michael Schumacher’s fastest lap and 5/100ths off the second best lap time set by Rubens Barrichello.
Having elected to start the 71-lap race from the pit lane after a disappointing qualifying session, Webber was able to top up with fuel after the grid had begun their formation lap, as per the regulations. However, when Toyota’s Cristiano de Matta failed to get away at the lights and the race was aborted, the team fell foul of the parc ferme conditions.
Webber joined the race at the rear of the field behind Renault’s Fernando Alonso who had also opted to start from the pit lane. A Safety Car period to remove the stricken Minardi of Jos Verstappen on the pit straight enabled Webber to close on the tail-enders and by the end of lap five, he was up to 16th.
Mark, though, was ordered into the pits on lap nine for a 10-second drive-through penalty and found himself back at the rear of the field and with it all to do again! However, he made up several spots to move into 12th and had just caught the dice for ninth between Giancarlo Fisichella, Jacques Villeneuve and David Coulthard when he made his first pit stop on lap 30.
Rejoining in 14th position, Webber moved quickly up the order to seventh place before pitting again on lap 54. A couple of quick laps prior to his stop and a speedy turn-around in the pits enabled Mark to get out ahead of Jarno Trulli and maintain his seventh position.
As in Barcelona, there was a big gap to the sixth placeman – this time David Coulthard with almost 30 seconds separating them. However, it was Ralf Schumacher that Webber set his sights on after the Williams driver dropped from fifth to sixth behind Coulthard on lap 56 following an off-track excursion.
The difference was initially 27.9 seconds but Webber gained time hand over fist, slicing almost two seconds a lap off the German as the deficit came down, with just 9.7s between them at the chequered flag. Indeed, Webber posted his fastest lap of the race on the final lap, his time of 1min 08.966s giving him the third fastest lap of the race behind Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. His Sector 3 time was only bettered by Schumacher while he recorded the third best Sector 2 time (behind Schumacher and Barrichello).
“It was a really solid race from the team and I thoroughly enjoyed the Grand Prix this afternoon. The car performed very well throughout with no reliability issues at all. Looking at the lap times, clearly the performance of our car is quite good and we would have definitely got a lot more out of the situation had we not been stung with that penalty. However, we wouldn’t have been in the pit lane but for my mistake in qualifying yesterday but as they say it’s either go hard or go home! It was a really satisfying weekend on many fronts again and fantastic to build on the two points we earned at Barcelona last time out.”
- Ends -
Note: F1 fans will have a chance to chat on-line with Mark on Monday, May 19 at www.markwebber.com at 7pm (Australian EST) when he’ll be taking questions on this weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, his recent signing with Jaguar Racing until 2005 and any other F1-related questions.
Monday, May 19
7pm – Australian EST
11am – Central Europe
10am – UK
2am – USA (West Coast)
5am – USA (East Coast)
Mark Webber is the Team Principal of MW Arden, a three car team in the new GP3 series supporting European Grands Prix.