How does Mark Webber fail to win from pole?

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    Mark Webber on pole for Spanish F1 qualifying

    Mark Webber has qualified on pole position three times in the 2011 Formula One season, but so far he has yet to win a race. This is a rather shocking record in F1, where pole position has been vital to race victories.

    Interestingly, Webber has been consistently finishing third. The only other occasion where he did not finish third was Australian Grand Prix (fifth) and Turkish Grand Prix (second). What is more shocking is that he always gets overtaken at or by turn one!

    The German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring was the most recent race where Webber started the race on pole position but finished third.

    So what happened to Webber in Germany? And was there a chance to still win the race after losing the lead to Hamilton in turn one, lap one?

    Webber was right behind Hamilton in the entire first stint of the race, which clearly showed he could potentially be faster than Hamilton if he had clear air.

    Webber successfully undercut Hamilton in the first pitstop and regained the lead. It looked like Webber could take off into distance from there, but unfortunately it was not the case.

    One of the most important contributing factors to Webber’s third place finish at the German Grand Prix was the track temperature.

    The track temperature remained low throughout the weekend, and there was not much improvement during the race – it was about 18 degrees.

    This meant the track’s grip level did not improve and this was the reason for Webber’s lack of pace in the second half of the race.

    Interestingly, the last time the grip level on the track failed to improve as the race went on was Chinese Grand Prix.
    It was where Hamilton won his previous race.

    By contrast, European Grand Prix in Valencia had one of the highest track temperatures. That was when McLaren struggled with their pace during the race.

    Webber’s second shot to win the race came on Hamilton’s second pitstop out lap. Hamilton came out of the pit just in front of Webber. Webber’s tyres were up to temperature and it was the perfect opportunity to get ahead of Hamilton. Unfortunately Webber’s attempt was denied by Hamilton in turn two.

    As the race was approaching the end, Webber’s inability to keep up with Alonso and Hamilton’s pace meant the window of opportunity for race win was closing rapidly.

    Webber’s final shot came at the final pitstop, where he tried to use the differences on the tyres to overtake Alonso in the pitstop. It was a long shot but it was worth the try.

    Being way ahead of the fourth placed Massa, Webber was able to take the gamble by staying out on the soft tyres longer than Hamilton and Alonso, who had moved onto the medium tyres – which was said to be about 1.5 second slower than the soft tyres.

    After all, if Webber had pitted the same lap as Alonso for the medium tyres, there was no way he could have overtaken Alonso.

    Although Webber was still setting fastest sector times in the soft tyres with around ten laps to go, the old soft tyres were not fast enough to catch up to Alonso and Hamilton’s brand new medium tyres.

    Looking back at the race, after losing the lead in turn one, Webber still had a few opportunities to win the race, but certainly none of them were as good as maintaining the lead after turn one.

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    The Crowd Says (15)

    • July 26th 2011 @ 5:32am
      Jarrad Northover said | July 26th 2011 @ 5:32am | ! Report

      Honestly who writes this stuff? If you are going to publish an article about F1 or Webber in this case you should actually do some research first. Frustrating to know somebody is making public comment without bothering to follow the sport they are writing about. Well, at least you recognise that Webber had a poor start, that is certainly true and he has had poor starts from every pole this year.

      Anyway the second paragraph is factually incorrect. Webber has not finished 3rd in every race except Turkey and Australia, in fact in Malaysia he finished 4th, in Span he finished 4th, at Monaco he finished 4th. Heidfeld was 3rd in Malaysia, and Button was 3rd in both Spain and Monaco. Check the official F1 website for results before you make public comment dingbat its not hard!

      Amazing drive by Hamilton on Saturday and Sunday to be on the front row and then win, he’s a champ!

      Really hope Webber can win one in Hungary! Should suit Red Bull as high speed corners all over the place.

    • July 26th 2011 @ 9:19am
      Chris said | July 26th 2011 @ 9:19am | ! Report

      I know this is probably heresy to many people, but I keep hearing how talented Mark Webber is, but he seems to be one of these sportsmen who never seems to quite live up to his potential. He often seems to win pole position, or hold the fastest lap of the race, but rarely seems to be able to hold it together long enough to actually win many races. Does he lose his nerve when he’s fighting it out amongst the big guns? Does he lose concentration at key times?

      • July 26th 2011 @ 9:31am
        NCB619 said | July 26th 2011 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        Obviously, you shouldn’t be commenting on this since you don’t watch the races.

        The reason why Webber fails to win from pole so often, is simple. Webber is poor off the grid, and always has been. If I recall correctly, I may be wrong, this was also the case when he grabbed his first pole position at Nurburgring in 2009, and then went on to win the Grand Prix, so it’s not the be all/end all. It’s just that starting from pole AND staying ahead can give you that clean space up front to pull ahead.

      • July 26th 2011 @ 9:54am
        Ben G said | July 26th 2011 @ 9:54am | ! Report

        I am not much of a motor sport fan but he is coming 2nd in the biggest motor racing event in the world. It would be like saying Christiano Ronaldo isn’t that talented because Messi is the best footballer in the world.

        I also find it funny that people keep pointing out that he can’t win from pole as one of the reasons why he can’t be that good. The obvious fallacy being that he only got in to pole position because he beat everyone else.

    • Roar Guru

      July 26th 2011 @ 9:42am
      LeftArmSpinner said | July 26th 2011 @ 9:42am | ! Report

      I read the article expecting to hear why Webber failed to win from pole, starting with why he didnt get away first and lead out of the corner.

      My understanding is that he had the revs right up and just as the lights changed, the revs dropped and the car got away slowly by comparison to the others. I dont understand why. presumably an engine with the power of an F1 engine can move the light weight F1 car without such a drop in revs. Was it the electronics, the driver aids, or driver error……………………….

      Needless to say, I sat there praying for rain to make it interesting, like one of the earlier races in Canada where Button made 6 pitstops and won it on the last lap from Vettel.

      Can anyone answer what happened to webber off the grid?

      • July 26th 2011 @ 10:36am
        West Lakes Rick said | July 26th 2011 @ 10:36am | ! Report

        Webber is a terrible starter off the grid and Hamilton is very good. Hamilton has at times been over aggressive off the grid which has cost him races before but on Sunday, Webber was just too slow to force Hamilton to back off.

        In the exchange where Hamilton turned wide and Webber overtook before losing the lead after about 5 seconds, that was just excellent driving from Hamilton. We shouldn’t take anything away from Hamilton’s flawless drive. The other thing is that Webber’s second pit stop was absolutely terrible. I can’t remember the exact time but I’m pretty sure the stop was about 1.5-2 seconds too long.

      • July 26th 2011 @ 6:16pm
        Jarrad Northover said | July 26th 2011 @ 6:16pm | ! Report

        Regarding the sudden drop in revs for Webber on the grid David Coultard said it was unexpected and strange how the revs randomly dropped at the worst possible time. Maybe a technical problem rather than a Webber problem? David Coultard would be one of the best to make comment about this as their former driver who was so influential in developing the team in the beginning.
        Not sure if its a matter of the Renault engine? or Red Bull technical matter specifically. I would suggest Red Bull as Heidfeld and Petrov have had some stunning starts off the grid with the same engine, especially Heidfeld in Malaysia that was amazing like a video game.

      • July 27th 2011 @ 4:29pm
        karen said | July 27th 2011 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

        Actually, Coulthard and Brundle suspected it was a technical problem as something similar happened during one of the pitstops. Mark’s starts have never been great, but over the last year and half they have been exacerbated by the RBR’s chronic clutch issues. He’s certainly not hte worst starter on the grid.

        And I don’t think he’d have won anyway. Hamilton’s car was extremely fast and then Mark’s second pitstop was extremely tardy, costing him all chance of winning.

    • July 26th 2011 @ 12:53pm
      Rabbits said | July 26th 2011 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

      As a huge Webber fan, I understand the sentiment of this article as I’m also disappointed Mark hasn’t been able to convert his pole positions into race wins in 2011. It is also true that Mark is a poor starter, but this doesn’t explain his poor conversion in 2011 as the current regulations with 3 or 4 pit stops in most races give drivers plentiful opportunities to pass drivers if they have good race pace.

      I’d like to suggest another reason for his poor conversion, the Red Bull F1 car simply isn’t as fast as people think it is!!! There’s no doubt it’s the fastest car on the grid, although this might be changing, but I believe the exceptional qualifying performances of Vettel and Webber accentuate the difference in performance levels amongst the top teams. Mark and Vettel have both been brilliant in qualifying throughout their respective careers at other teams, regularly outqualifying teammates, and now find themselves in an incredibly competitive internal battle at Red Bull. No other team in F1 compares to Red Bull in terms of the closeness of their qualifying times, leading the drivers to pay microscopic attention to telemetry, and maximise the car’s performance. The consistently miniscule gap between the Red Bull cars in Q3 suggests both drivers are qualifying extremely well. The current environment at Red Bull is perfectly suited to fast qualifying times; whereas McLaren and Ferrari drivers are frequently paying more attention to Red Bull Racing rather than focusing on improving their own technical package and processes.

      Many F1 obervers have noticed that Red Bull seem to have difficulty translating qualifying speed to a comparative race pace advantage, they have frequently been on the defensive on Sunday afternoon. However, the deterioration of the Pirelli tyres dictates that drivers must treat the tyres with care, requiring significant changes in driving style from Saturday to Sunday. By his own admission, Mark has had more trouble than most coming to terms with this change.

      Once he’s recovered from poor starts, Mark has driven fast and consistently from pole position, but simply hasn’t had the pace to beat his rivals. Let’s not be overly critical and punish him for brilliant qualifying performances.

      A interesting and related point of discussion is that perhaps Red Bull are yet to fully appreciate the value of setting up the car for race conditions, rather than outright qualifying pace in 2011. Pole position is not essential for race wins with the current regulations. Mark’s storming drive from 18th on the grid to the podium demonstrates what’s possible from managing tyres in certain race conditions.

      • July 26th 2011 @ 1:59pm
        Stam said | July 26th 2011 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

        Replace the article with this

      • July 26th 2011 @ 2:44pm
        MichaelW said | July 26th 2011 @ 2:44pm | ! Report

        I think this race more than any other clearly illustrated the aerodynamic and mechanical differences of the big 3.

        The Mclarens were much better suited to low speed cornering but have a higher top speed (probably due mostly to a different aero package), while the RB7 is like lightning through the higher speed corners but reacts sluggishly in tight corners and struggles with top speed even with DRS engaged.

        Ferrari seem to have gone for an overall balanced design which isn’t best at anything but appears to be the most consistantly strong.

        Which then means that success will most likely be dictated heavily by the prevailing corner type of the track.

        Can easily see why the engineers don’t care about the drivers, it’s a beautiful exercise in design competition, and the more I learn about the technical aspects of Formula 1 the more questions I have about team espionage and secret wind tunnel testing.

        If only the points were a little closer, was greatly enjoying Vettel struggling, schadenfreude indeed.

      • July 26th 2011 @ 6:27pm
        Jarrad Northover said | July 26th 2011 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

        I will note that I think that Webber is poor with Pirelli tyre management, and I think he secretly craves for the Bridgestone tyres that were used last year. Vettel is surprisingly brilliant at tyre management considering his aggressive driving style. I think what is key is that Vettel is somehow able to balance the car for effectively than Webber.
        I have the opinion that Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso were born to race, their simply so good no matter what is thrown at them. Webber was born and became an amazing driver but just lacks that little bit more required to match the best 3.

    • July 27th 2011 @ 4:41pm
      karen said | July 27th 2011 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

      Who on earth is the blithering idiot that wrote this pile of tripe?

      Did they watch the race? Any race of Webber’s career? Read any press? Know anything about the sport at all?

      Red Bull admitted on several occasions last year that they had clutch issues. This became an issue at the start. Just before the lights went out, the revs on the RB7 dropped very sharply and the car sounded rough as guts. A similar issue occurred during one of his pitstops that led the very experienced commentators to believe it was a technical problem, not an issue with Mark’s start.

      No-one is saying Mark’s starts are magic. They never have been. But they’ve never been so utterly rubbish as this article would have you believe. Mark’s magic is in qualifying and in fighting. He is one of the best drivers on the grid at coming back from an incident – be it his team sending him out too late to make Q2, and forcing him to start 18th, or Hamilton punting him off the track at the third corner, or a thirty-second pitstop because of RBR’s complete and utter incompetence.

      The author of this article clearly does not know what they are about, because they don’t even have Mark’s results right. Australia – 5th, Malaysia – 4th, China – 3rd, Turkey – 2nd, Barcelona – 4th, Monaco – 4th, Montreal – 3rd, Silverstone – 3rd, Germany – 3rd. That’s actually an extremely impressive run considering his massive car problems that he’s had this season – I don’t think he’s had a single clean weekend.

      At any rate, I don’t know if it would have mattered if Mark had led off the line. Hamilton’s McLaren was killer fast and the RB7 just couldn’t work the third set of softs as well. Mark’s pitstops were also quite slow (not so for his teammate – the team mysteriously managed a lightning-quick stop for him).

      Mark Webber is more than capable of winning races and challenging for the championship. Now he just has to make sure he’s in a team that will allow him to do so.

    • July 27th 2011 @ 7:40pm
      Rachel said | July 27th 2011 @ 7:40pm | ! Report

      Is clear that Webber is at his best. Greatly missed his chance of pole position and does a very spectacular race, but has already achieved several podium finishes. Remains to be seen in the next GP, and how it behaves with Vettel, if there is really a change in McLaren and Ferrari.

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