Things have gone from bad to worse for Red Bull driver Mark Webber. The Australian was duped in Malaysia by his teammate, Sebastian Vettel, and lost an assured victory. He showed up in China this weekend and suffered a fuel problem that saw him penalized during qualifying and relegated to the back of the grid for the start of Sunday’s Grand Prix. He then suffered a post-race penalty for colliding with his sister team’s car of Jean-Eric Vergne.
Both cars survived the debacle but Webber eventually retired from the race when his right rear wheel came off his car (an action that has been penalized in the past). Webber told the press:
“I can’t remember the last time we had that much in the space of two days,” Webber said.
“Disappointing, but Fernando [Alonso] didn’t have the smoothest last grand prix either, so that can come with the territory unfortunately.
“We’ve got of things to look into over this week and get ready for Bahrain. I think performance-wise I’m happy with how I’m driving, we just need to put things smoother together.”
Webber has been the focal point for much of the last three weeks due to the dust-up between he and Vettel and his anguish in the Chinese Grand Prix will surely be something he is ready to put behind him next week in Bahrain.
From Vergne’s perspective, he wasn’t sure what Webber was trying to do:
“I don’t know what he tried to do, it’s a shame,” Vergne said to AUTOSPORT.
“I did not even close the door, I just took my corner normally and then suddenly, in the middle of the corner, I felt a hit.”
Webber said Vergne knew he was there:
“I was regrouping and coming through the field and got to Jean-Eric,” said Webber.
“I was coming from a reasonable distance back but he knew I was there.
“He was really, really wide and looking like he opened the corner and was giving me the line.
“But we got to the apex and he took it.
“It’s disappointing. He was entitled to do that, but if he’d just gone around the outside we would’ve both survived.”
As for Webber’s loose wheel? The FIA fined the team for the infraction or unsafe release. Worse fines have been leveled at other drivers for the same infraction:
“Until we get the car back it is difficult to make any assumptions,” he said. “Obviously just prior to that he had an incident with Jean-Eric [Vergne] and damaged the front wing, and we had a puncture on the left front.
“So all four wheels were changed and the nose was changed, and the report from the gunman who obviously had extra time because it was not a hasty time due to nose change was that certainly the right rear was secure and done up tightly.”