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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.”

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Rapierman

    As they say, “When it rains, it pours.” More fuel for the rumor fires.

  • UAN

    The reality is he stuffed it into JEV in an incredibly optimistic move. On replays you can see that Vergne totally took the standard racing line. JEV said he expected that Webber would have passed him soon after the corner.

    One thing that wasn’t talked about is that Vettel had just pitted and come out right behind Webber and was starting to pressure him on newer tires. I’m wondering if Webber wasn’t feeling a bit of the heat and wanting to get a car between him and Vettel as quickly as possible. I know everyone talks like Webber is just waiting to take out Vettel or something, but I think the reality is that both are very competitive racers and Webber would want to keep in front of Vettel but knew SV was faster on that lap due to tire strategies so made the move on JEV.

  • MM

    Even as a Webber fan I recognise the inside move on JEV wasn’t his best. BUT! you have to admit Vettel never has the problems Mark always has. He’s never lost a tyre (apart from Abu Dhabi in ’11 but that was an unavoidable puncture), had refuellng issues. I am far from being a conspiracy theorist but seriously, even I am starting to question what is happening within that “team”.

    • UAN

      Vettel never had refueling issues? You mean like in Abu Dhabi 2012 when he had to start from the pit lane because of a fueling issue?

      I also remember folks going on and on about how clumsy Vettel was in the opening laps of that race, losing a front wing end plate with Bruno Senna.

      I’m not the greatest Webber fan, but I feel for him, and as Rapierman says above, when it rains it pours. I’d be curious what happened with putting on the right rear tire — they had all the time in the world to do it and Horner indicated the gun man on that tire indicated it was on.

      But no matter how much one hates (not that you do) Vettel or Red Bull, it’s beyond common sense to think RBR is sabotaging Webber on purpose. RB wants to win the WCC. They don’t want to just throw points out the window for the heck of it. We are talking hundreds of millions of dollars on the line here. From a business perspective, no on loves or hates any one driver to mess with that kind of money. No one.

      • dom

        I was at the race and as it happens sat directly opposite the red bull garage. it was interesting to see in the hour or so before the race that RB were doing a lot of practice pit stops. i know they now currently have the record for the fastest stop so it seemed to make sense they were practising, getting warmed up etc, even though none of the other teams, that i noticed, did any. RB did several. is it possible they changed something since last race, and that caused the issue with Mark’s wheel?

    • He has had issue. Alternators etc. KERS and DRS have plagued him as well but to your point, not to the level Mark has. Mark had a lot of ground to make up and I am assuming he thought the sister team would get out of his way. An opportunistic move that didn’t work.

      • Makana

        It seemed to me that Mark was too preoccupied with the car behind than the car in front. Seb had just showed up behind Mark and we were getting ready for another showdown and in my opinion Mark wanted to make him work for it- so bad that he lost concentration at the front and dove on the inside of JEV, in a very reckless way. To me, somehow, Seb being behind “excited” Mark a bit to much :)

    • Rik

      Come on, Vettel doesn’t have these problems mostly b/c he doesn’t drive like Webber. People make their own luck and I honestly think Webber stopped the race prematurely as it seems his wheel fell off rather than suspension damage and he parked it when he could have gotten back to the pits and put new skins on it and kept racing.. For points???

      • mini696

        How did you expect him to make it back? Tie the wheel on with duct tape and his wifes stockings?

        • Rik

          You are aware that the diff has a positraction so just like when the tire goes flat and does not provide forward movement the other tire can propel the car around the track.

          Last I read he’s not married so maybe your wife’s clothing would work to hold the car together

  • cj

    If it wasn’t a TR I don’t think he would have tried the pass. If I watch it again I might change my mind but, watching live, I though Vergne was letting him past.

    If it wasn’t for back luck, Mark would have no luck at all!

  • zzyzxx

    I think that the drivers for the top teams expect the drivers of the slower teams to move out of the way. The fact is that they are usually lapping these cars, but when they find themselves battling for position, they still seem to think that the slower car should change their line and let them pass. Weber said that JEV “looking like he opened the corner and was giving me the line” That is standard for a car being lapped, but he wasn’t being lapped. They were battling for position and JEV had every right to keep Webber behind him. Webber would never make that move on a McLaren or Ferrari. He expected the Toro Rosso to pull out of the way simply because a Red Bull wanted by.

    • UAN

      sounds like Vettel isn’t the only Red Bull driver to think he’s “entitled” :)

  • Turbophoenix

    Speaking of Mark, Channel Seven news here in Australia reported that he was gonna be racing Porsches next year. Any substance to this at all? I haven’t heard anything aside from that one remark, so I’m taking it with a grain of salt… that and they also said that Riciarrdo would be the number one candidate to replace him. I love Dan (he grew up around the corner from me!), but I just don’t see him taking a place at Red Bull with one 7th place finish to his name.

    • I haven’t head anything on that front. I’m also wondering if Dan would be the best option with Didi saying he’d like Kimi. :)

  • charlie w
  • Clutchless

    Webber’s biggest issue is between his ears, thanks for being a team player now why don’t you show some of that “aussie grit…..”

  • Scholesy

    Karma meet Mark. Mark, karma.

  • TooGood2tell

    “someone once said that assumption is the mother of all fuck-ups. It’s a great line, but it’s also true. It sums up Formula One. You can take nothing for granted.” ~ Sir Frank Williams

  • Jack Flash (Aust)

    Well, well well…
    Make what you want of the “Dinner with friends in Dubai” photo, tweeted by both Webber and Alonso.

    http://www.worldcarfans.com/113041756643/webber-alonso-rekindle-multi-21-with-cheeky-photo
    or
    http://www.wheels24.co.za/FormulaOne/Webber-Alonsos-cheeky-photo-20130417

    A long overdue change from Phonetian Purple to Scarlet Red????

    Jack Flash

    • UAN

      Yes, but what no one is talking about is this:

      “When the pair sat down for dinner in Dubai in April 2013, Ferrari’s Alonso captured the moment on his phone and posted the photo on Twitter.”

      Alonso took the picture AND was in the picture! No wonder the tweet/photo was deleted :) lol