Webber fastest ahead of Australian GP
Rainmaster Mark Webber produced the quickest lap at a soaked Catalunya circuit then dismissed suggestions Red Bull would dominate this month’s Australian Formula One Grand Prix.
It was the first time the world champion team had led 2013 pre-season testing in Spain, Webber surviving the early torrent to clock a best lap of 1min 22.693sec in the afternoon session.
New Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was second fastest while Australian Daniel Ricciardo’s Torro Rosso teammate Jean Eric Vergne was third.
A renowned wet-weather specialist, Webber warmed up in atrocious conditions before setting his benchmark time.
“It was pretty heavy, I must say,” the Australian said said.
“There was a big tailwind down to Turn One… but to be honest it was tricky enough anyway because of the greasy conditions on the track.”
While Red Bull have won the past three drivers’ and constructors’ titles, Webber said it would be unlikely they would lock out the front of the grid at Albert Park.
“Of course not. That hasn’t happened for a long time,” Webber said.
“Once the season gets going then you have a bit of a trend, but early in the season it’s anyone’s game.”
The veteran has consistently underperformed at his home race, but hasn’t given up on a podium.
“I enjoy running at Melbourne,” he said.
“I am fast there. I just need to keep knocking at the door.”
Measured in his forecast, Webber agreed the team was progressing to schedule while last year they went into the first race months behind.
“I think our preparation is a lot better than last year when we started the season scratching for podiums in the first five, six, seven races,” Webber said.
“We had more challenges to understand the car last season. This year we know it well because it is not a huge change from last year.
“But it still remains to be seen if we can win at different venues and that’s what F1 is about.”
While there is little to be gained from the vagaries of testing, Webber said Red Bull had not ignored the times posted.
“We’ve seen some very quick lap times from other cars, so we’ve got work to do and we’re working as hard as we can because we know there are some very strong teams out there,” he said.
“We obviously focus as much as we can on ourselves, but you also want to understand sometimes what the other guys are doing and have a look at how you might compare.”© AAP 2014