July 5, 2003
Mark Webber continued to show his strong form in qualifying by setting the ninth fastest time in today’s official qualifying session for the French Grand Prix at Magny Cours. The 26-year old Jaguar Racing driver will start Sunday’s 70-lap race just behind the top four teams – Williams, Ferrari, McLaren and Renault – after setting an impressive lap of 1min16.308s which saw him only 2/10ths of a second adrift of the Ferarri of Rubens Barrichello.
“I don’t think we could have hoped for much more,” said Webber afterwards, “To be behind the big guns is very satisfying for Jaguar Racing. I would have liked to have been a bit stronger in the first sector but it’s impossible to have a perfect balance in these situations.
“We’ve clearly got an advantage with the Michelin tyres but even so, in relation to some of the top teams on Michelins, we’re doing well and we’re nicely placed. Our reliability has been very good again this weekend and I hope we can take that forward into the race tomorrow.”
Indeed, Webber has been strongly placed throughout the weekend’s practice and qualifying sessions and topped Friday’s opening practice session with a time of 1min 26.915 on a wet track. However, the Australian probably claimed more publicity for being at the centre of a bizarre pit lane incident when world champion Michael Schumacher was incorrectly given the “all clear” to leave his pit box just as Webber was passing by. The two cars made
contact, the Ferrari taking off the front wing of the Jaguar! The world champions were later fined for their indiscretion!
Friday’s one hour qualifying proved another lottery with torrential rain falling prior to the start of the session. However, the track dried as the session progressed meaning the provisional grid had a decidedly topsy turvey look to it. The Minardi of Jos Verstappen claimed provisional pole towards the end of the session when the track had dried sufficiently for dry weather tyres. Webber was the 11th car out and had to contend with a wet track in sections although a dry line was emerging. He posted a time of 1min 25.178s which put him to the top of the timed sheets and although the next two
cars failed to improve on his time, he ultimately finished the session eighth fastest.
- Ends -
Mark Webber is the Team Principal of MW Arden, a three car team in the new GP3 series supporting European Grands Prix.