Mark returns to the scene of his greatest victory in Formula One this weekend. He dominated last year’s Monaco Grand Prix and he’s hoping for another top result in Sunday’s 78-lap race.
“Any grand prix victory is special,” says Mark, “especially when you fully deserve it and don’t get it through attrition. But my victory in Monaco last year was particularly special because you’re racing the track and your rivals here. I hope to have more opportunities to win the race in the future, starting this weekend.”
The unique schedule at Monaco sees the cars taking to the track for the first time on Thursday, just four days after the Spanish Grand Prix. As far as Mark’s concerned, the action can’t start soon enough.
“Barcelona wasn’t a great result,” says Mark, who finished fourth last Sunday. “Luckily, F1 isn’t like the Olympic Games. You don’t have to wait four years to have another go; we’re back on-track this weekend on the most demanding track of them all.
“In Barcelona our race pace wasn’t as strong as our qualifying pace, but that’s been the case for the last few years. At Silverstone last year, I was something like 0.7s per lap faster than Lewis Hamilton in qualifying, but in the race that gap was down to 0.3s per lap. The goal now is to keep Saturdays as they are while improving our pace on Sunday.”
Tyres will be a major talking point this weekend, with Pirelli racing their super-soft rubber for the first time. Mark tested the compound during winter testing in Jerez, but the circuit layout and the track temperatures were vastly different to those expected this weekend.
“Tyre wear is having a major influence on race results this year,” says Mark. “There’s no doubt that the super-soft rubber is going to wear, but we’ll only find out how much on Sunday because the track conditions change a lot during practice as the asphalt rubbers in.
“The marbles could make life pretty difficult late in the race because they have nowhere to go, except onto the edge of the track. The barriers will be moving artificially towards us the marbles get thicker!”
Despite all of the challenges presented by the Monaco Grand Prix, it’s a race that Mark relishes and his goal for the weekend ahead is clear. “My job is to get the best out of me and the car, “ he says. “I managed to do that last year and I’ll be aiming to do that again.”
Mark Webber is the Team Principal of MW Arden, a three car team in the new GP3 series supporting European Grands Prix.