Monza may have taken him back yet again into the points lead of the five-way world championship fight, but Red Bull’s Mark Webber remains the quiet man of the great struggle. Of course he comes to Singapore intent on winning, to add another 25 points to his account, but he says the last thing he is thinking about is his five-point advantage over McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.
“I’m leading,” he acknowledged on Thursday. “There are a few guys who have a few less points here and there, but it’s still very interesting. It can move around – in a negative or positive way for some people quite quickly. It’s certainly a nice position to be in but I’d certainly like a few more points. It doesn’t matter if it’s two guys, four guys, eight guys.
“You come here with the job of trying to win the race and that is what we’ll try to do. But will five of us go to Abu Dhabi? The chances are it could. It might be three, might be five, might be one. We have to finish races, stay in there. We have to be in the hunt in Abu Dhabi. Leading the championship in Singapore is not the important thing, leading it in Abu Dhabi is.”
Just as Hamilton has, Webber stresses that the crucial thing from now on to the end of the season is to finish races and to keep scoring.
“I’m treating this as a normal race,” he said. “It’s similar to what it was at the start of the year; we have to try and get the best out of the car, do our best for the race, and usually you get what you deserve in this game. Non-finishes are not part of the menu. I need to keep scoring, getting as many points as we can. But winning makes a difference, and that’s what our goal is to try and do here.”
In theory Singapore should see Red Bull’s aerodynamic strengths play a much more significant role than they could at the recent low downforce tracks Spa and Monza, and he added: “Without doubt we knew Spa and Monza were going to be probably a little bit more challenging for us. We know we have a fantastic car wherever we go in the world but we probably wouldn’t go to Spa and Monza every day of the week to take our opposition on because there are not many tracks like that on the calendar. We’re definitely focused on the tracks where we have the most of them and this is a similar characteristic to how most of the circuits are if you like, so we expect to be a bit more competitive here.
“We’re not leading by mistake, we’ve earned it. We’re looking to add to it pretty solidly this weekend, it should be okay for our car, it’s bumpy which has been good for us in the past. We’re optimistic that we can continue to chip away. It’s important to do that in the next few weeks.”
Red Bull have said this weekend that they no longer consider McLaren to be their strongest opposition, and that Fernando Alonso and Ferrari have now risen to that position.
Webber conceded that he has yet to finish here, but said: “I’ve only had two races. I think I‘ve had a gearbox and a brake failure. But Brazil was a rubbish track for me in the past and I won there last year. I’m ticking a few boxes off, so I hope to do well this weekend.”
One of the things that could up skittle plans this weekend is if it rains during the race. “We haven’t experienced the rain under the lights yet at this venue,” Webber said. “I think one of the biggest things we would like to experience sooner rather than later – if we need to – is the spray. It’s something that we don’t really know how it will work with the clarity of the lights coming through. My money is on everything being fine, I don’t think there will be any huge problems.
“It’ll be the same rules as normal tracks. If it’s too heavy we obviously can’t race. It doesn’t matter if it’s day or night; if the track is too wet, we can’t have a car race. It’s not about trying to race each other, it becomes a survival thing. But we’ll leave it up to the guys to make sure that it’s safe enough to try and stay on the track. If it’s safe enough for that, then I think it’ll be a normal Grand Prix.”