Webber calls for better drug testing in F1

Mark Webber has called on F1’s governing body to step up its drug testing, after a motorcycle racer was banned.

Fellow Australian Anthony West, who races in the second-tier Moto2 category, was on Thursday banned for a month after testing positive for the stimulant Methylhexaneamine, the AAP news agency reports. Red Bull driver Webber welcomed motorcycling’s push to ensure the sport is drug-free, and called on the FIA to follow suit, in order to ensure “clarity”.

“I’ve always been championing the idea to do more of it, but the FIA have never really been that strong on it,” he said. “The other drivers have never been super strong on it, so it’s never really been a huge issue. You know, with what’s at stake, the money involved and all that type of stuff, people do things,” Webber insisted.

“It’s extremely unlikely but you never say never.”


Webber apologised after press conference snub

Mark Webber walked out of the official FIA press conference after Sunday’s Indian grand prix.

The incident occurred at the tail end of the media formalities at the Buddh circuit, when not a single question from the floor was addressed to the Australian. So, when Bild newspaper’s Frank Schneider asked title contenders Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel what they would each like from one another, Vettel turned to Alonso and grinned: “Ah, no, you have a cap.

“I was just about to say his cap, but … where did you get that from?” Webber’s Red Bull teammate joked.

Alonso looked puzzled: “I can give it (the cap) to you but … I didn’t understand the …”

Webber, “shaking his head” according to the SID news agency, had already walked out.

F1’s media delegate Matteo Bonciani told the Indian news agency IANS that he later apologised.

“He said it is something he should not have done. Maybe he did that as he didn’t like the questions asked in the room,” said Bonciani.

Bonciani told SID: “He apologised and I accepted.”

He confirmed that he could have referred Webber to the stewards for penalty, but explained: “I didn’t (do that) because anyone can respond incorrectly in the heat of the moment.

“Normally there are no problems.”

Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko also defended Webber.

“Mark actually had an early fight and was running late,” he told Bild. “So because the last question was not for him, he got up (and left).”

Marko also dismissed the ‘psychological games’ played by Ferrari’s Alonso in India this weekend, when the Spaniard said his title fight is not with Vettel but with car designer Adrian Newey.

“It’s just games,” he insisted. “But they don’t make us nervous.”


No orders, but Red Bull counting on Webber ‘intelligence’

Dr Helmut Marko has fended off the team order issue by backing the “intelligence” and “team-player qualities” of his drivers.

The issue is pertinent ahead of Sunday’s Indian grand prix, with Mark Webber effectively out of the fight for the world championship, but insisting he will not move over for Sebastian Vettel if he is running ahead of the German. German Vettel’s title fight is really with Fernando Alonso, whose Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa is fully supportive of the Spaniard.

The same is not true at Red Bull, with Marko insisting Webber – second on the grid behind the dominant sister RB8 in India – will not be ordered to play a subordinate role to Vettel.

“We have never had team orders,” Marko told F1’s official website, “but we bank on the intelligence of our drivers. As long as Mark has a theoretical, mathematical chance of winning the title it is understandable when he says that he is first and foremost driving for himself.”

Asked however if Red Bull is counting on the ‘team player qualities’ of its drivers on Sunday, he admitted: “Yes.”


Webber ‘will not pull over’ for Vettel in India

Red Bull’s Mark Webber has denied he would pull over for his championship-leading teammate Sebastian if he is leading the Indian grand prix on Sunday.

Reports have suggested the time for Webber to start supporting German Vettel’s title fight – both practically and also in terms of one of the Australian’s contract clauses – has now come.

But when asked what will happen if he is leading on Sunday ahead of the sister RB8, Webber insisted: “I will win. That’s it.

“If I’m in the lead this weekend, I’m not pulling over for anyone.”

Told that Christian Horner might not be happy if that happens, Webber recalled that his boss has said Red Bull will not impose team orders unless one driver is mathematically out of the hunt.

And “mathematically I have a chance,” he asserted.

“(It’s going to be) very difficult (to win the title) but never say never,” added Webber.

Vettel, meanwhile, was coy when also asked about ‘team orders’ in the Buddh paddock.

“First, we see to having a good start and then we will cross that bridge if we get to it,” the German is quoted by The National newspaper.

Webber also had to fend off suggestions he would prefer Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso to beat Vettel to the title, after suggesting the Spaniard is still a real contender to win.

“That’s a ridiculous comment,” he snapped at the reporter. “Do you want me to come out and say Sebastian is the only one that can win it? You’re dreaming.”


Red Bull still not imposing team orders on Webber

Red Bull is still not willing to slot Mark Webber into a supporting role after Sunday’s Korean grand prix.

With the Australian on pole but 60 points behind Fernando Alonso’s championship lead prior to Sunday’s race, the team said it would not be imposing team orders in a bid to boost teammate Sebastian Vettel’s title chances.

The situation is now different. After Korea, Vettel is now the championsip leader, while Webber’s points gap is even slightly bigger.

But when asked about the need for team orders, team boss Christian Horner said on Sunday: “It’s still too early.

“The gap is pretty big but Mark still has a mathematical chance,” he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport. “So it would be wrong of us to ask Mark to do that (follow team orders).”

Horner said the opening lap in Korea was evidence that Vettel and Webber can fight fairly for position without interference.

“It’s always nerve wracking when you see your two cars so close to one another, but they’ve done it many times before and (on Sunday) they fought perfectly down to turn three,” he said.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is one point further up the standings than Webber, but the Briton thinks his championship is now over after finishing just tenth on Sunday.

“In terms of winning, I think that’s it for us,” he said.

“We were still in the fight up until now but it’s too far away (now).”

It’s also looking grim for Ferrari’s Alonso, because even though the points gap to Vettel is only 6 points, it is Red Bull who are enjoying a position of clear dominance.

“Now we need to score seven points more than Sebastian, which will be extremely tough but we believe we can do it,” said the Spaniard.


Red Bull denies team orders looming in Korea

A big question ahead of Sunday’s Korean grand prix is whether Red Bull will allow Mark Webber to win.

The Australian is a long way behind teammate Sebastian Vettel’s chase for the 2012 championship, but he has qualified on pole in Yeongam. Dr Helmut Marko played down the ‘team order’ issue, telling Austrian broadcaster ORF that the main thing is that the pair “must not interfere” with each other’s races.

“They both know that what is critical in the last five races is to finish the race, and that is by having no crashes, no spins or anything else,” he said.

And Marko said Webber can still win the title.

“He is 60 points behind but there are still 125 to get,” said the Austrian.

Former F1 driver and now Sky commentator Anthony Davidson, however, admitted he would be “very surprised” if Red Bull didn’t order a position swap in the event Webber is leading Vettel late on Sunday. Team boss Christian Horner denied the charge.

“No. Both drivers are free to race,” he said. “We ask that they give each other space and the target is for both of them to beat Fernando (Alonso) and score as many points in the constructors’ championship.”

Webber, meanwhile, is quoted by Brazil’s Totalrace: “We’ll see tomorrow (Sunday), but I think we should be free to race.”


Button: Webber could play title-spoiling role

Jenson Button is expecting Red Bull to play championship games on Sunday.

Mark Webber has qualified on pole in Korea, having declared that he is not ready to start playing a supporting role for his title-vying Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel. But with Vettel now just 4 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso, and two places ahead of the Spaniard on the grid, McLaren’s Button senses Webber has an important spoiling role to play.

“I don’t think he (Webber) will, do you?” McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh told reporters in the McLaren hospitality area in Korea.

“I do,” nodded Button.

Whitmarsh replied: “Well, I don’t think he will willingly.”


Webber, Button have different goals for 2012 season

Championship long-shots Mark Webber and Jenson Button each have very different targets for the rest of the 2012 calendar.

While McLaren’s Button has basically conceded the title, Australian Webber – just three points ahead of Button in the championship – is still pushing hard.

“Yes. That’s the goal, mate,” he said in Korea.

His deficit to the championship lead, however, is 60 points, so with just five races to go, some in the paddock might think a better strategy for Webber would be to back his teammate Sebastian Vettel’s realistic title challenge. When that was put to him in Korea, Webber answered: “I need to win, so that’s my goal. I’ve come here to push.

“It was a good little battle between Seb and I in Suzuka, he did a very good job in Q3. We did a very good job, and looking to finish the season as strongly as possible for myself,” he insisted.

3 points further adrift, Briton Button has admitted his title push is now all but over.

“The constructors’ is definitely on and that’s the big aim I think. When I get out of the car at the end of the race and look at the points, that’s the bit I really look at,” he said.


Webber: Grosjean should be banned again

Mark Webber was furious with Romain Grosjean on Sunday at Suzuka. The Australian referred to his French rival as “the first lap nutcase Grosjean”, after yet another first-corner crash.

After a spate of incidents this year, Grosjean was banned at Monza for the Spa first-corner crash. Stewards gave him a ten-second stop and go penalty for Sunday’s Webber crash.

“Maybe he needs another holiday (ban),” Webber told the British broadcaster Sky. “How many times can you make the same error?”

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was also affected, telling reporters the cause was “Grosjean again”.

“Romain, Romain, what are you doing?” BBC commentator David Coulthard said. “So many first-corner incidents.”

Another former F1 driver, Johnny Herbert, called on Lotus to sack the reigning GP2 champion.

“I don’t see what he’s adding to the team,” he said on Sky television.

McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said Sunday’s incident was “classic Grosjean”.

Grosjean admitted to Sky that Sunday’s was a “stupid crash” and said he had yet to speak to his Lotus bosses about their reaction.


Grosjean: Webber said Monza ban was ‘harsh’

Romain Grosjean said Mark Webber was “not very fair” at the start of Sunday’s Singapore grand prix. But after his successful return to F1 following a one-race ban, rookie Frenchman Grosjean also praised his Australian rival.

“Webber was not very fair as he completely cut the first corner,” he is quoted by RMC Sport. “But I have to say that at Monza he was the first to come and see me to say it (the ban) was a little harsh. I get on well with him,” added Grosjean.

The Lotus driver revealed that he has made some tweaks to his race preparation, so that he is now “better” prepared for the start of the races.

“There are six races left and I want to go on the podium,” said Grosjean.