The build-up to this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix has been dominated by speculation surrounding next week’s race in Bahrain. Mark was asked about virtually nothing else during his media session in Shanghai on Thursday afternoon.
“Giving the media a fair answer on Bahrain has taken a bit of focus,” says Mark. “It’s a very unusual position for a racing driver to be put in and I’ve looked at a lot of news outlets to try and gain a fair idea about what’s happening over there. As far as I’m concerned, this is the situation: I’m contracted to Red Bull Racing and the team is contracted to the FIA, who organise a 20-race World Championship. The FIA will have to make the call on whether or not we go.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s race at Shanghai International Circuit, Mark believes the RB8 can be competitive.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the DRS works out on the back straight,” says Mark, “but the car should be competitive. We need to squeeze out a bit more performance on Saturday, but it’s been quick in race trim. I’ve been in sight of Lewis’s gearbox in both of the races so far; okay, Jenson has been a little further down the road, but we’re not too far away.”
During the three-week break since the Malaysian Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing has been working hard at its Milton Keynes factory to develop and build upgrades for this race. Mark and his team-mate Sebastian Vettel will test the new parts during Friday practice and, if they work, they’ll use them for the remainder of the weekend.
“With the simulation tools that we have available to us,” says Mark, “we can introduce new parts with a greater degree of confidence than in the past. We’ve proved over the last few years what we can do when it comes to car development and I’m confident that we’ll make progress with this car here.”
Mark Webber is the Team Principal of MW Arden, a three car team in the new GP3 series supporting European Grands Prix.