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We’ve certainly scratched out collective heads over the continued poor starts from Red Bull’s Mark Webber and last Sunday we were witness to yet another slow one. This time, however, it seem a clutch problem was the culprit according to the team.

“We had a clutch that under delivered and created a horrible start for Mark,” Horner told AUTOSPORT

“We could see on the formation lap that the clutch did not appear to be performing as it should. Adjustments were made on the formation lap but the clutch has not delivered as it should have done at the start.”

It just seems almost comical now that Webber continues to struggle with the starts. If it were simply getting the timing and button pushing down, you would think the simulator would be the place to sort that out but it seems like it’s certainly more than that. Surely the tricky button-pushing is something Webber can handle.

Too many races have fallen prey to the Webber slow start and Horner reckons to the team needs to do something about it and quick.

“We approach each race as they come, we try to get the best out of the car, we keep pushing in all areas – but there are things we need to improve,” said Horner.

“We particularly need to address the start issue with Mark, and have to get on top of that. It has cost us too many points so far.”

We agree, it’s difficult to see Mark struggle to get off the start when a guy like Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso makes so much progress on the launch. Imagine how Mark would be doing if all of his starts were spot on this season? Finding pace on track is really hard and it seems that the start might be low-hanging fruit for the team to sort out and gain big time on track. Odd they haven’t seemed as adamant in the past to get this sorted as it’s be going on now for some time.

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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.
  • UAN

    I don’t think it’s fair that to say that RB hasn’t seemed as “adamant” in the past to get it sorted out. I may seem they are now because one could ask “why bother”? But it is critical now with Merc (and Ferrari) coming on strong in the final 8 races – RBR wants that 4th WCC as much as Vettel wants a 4th WDC. Poor starts could lead to an indifferent Webber and basically Vettel bringing home most of the points which doesn’t help win the Constructor’s title. Webber needs to think he has one or 2 good shots at a win to stay engaged and to bring home solid points overall.

    • UAN

      *It may seem

  • Philippe

    I don’t think the car is the problem. He had terrible starts when he was at Jaguar too.
    He’s just bad at starts.
    The opposite is true for Alonso as well. He is good at starts now and was good at it when we was with Renault.

    • That’s kind of my point. He just seems to be the one struggling with starts and has for some time now. This is the most pointed comment about it that I can recall from the team in some time…hence my comment about being adamant about it now.

      • peterriva

        His habitual bad starting has become a joke even with TV pundits. What did Hobbs say last week? Anyway, perhaps Le Mans will suit him better. Mark is a wonderful, consistent driver who understands the car he’s in. There’s just something wrong in his head/hand/eye coordination at every start.
        There was a thought – his starts have gotten worse as the auto start (red lights in sequence then out, used to be automatic) was phased out in favor of Charlie Whiting making the final decision. The anticipation factor is really horrible and Mark may want to avoid jumping the start.

  • James

    MW still bringing home enough points needed for the WCC but have to do it the hard way, RBR couldn’t bother to really get to the bottom of this because only one driver can win the championship anyway, as said, imagined if MW were spot on the start of each race, where would he be now! he still fast enough to challenge SV or at least be second or third then RBR will have to face 2010 again… as long as MW manage to get more points than any ‘second drivers’ of Mercedes, Ferrari, Lotus, they are Massa, Rosberg, Grojean, RBR don’t really bother too much…and MW has always deliver but not the potential maxium that we all know he could…then he would be challenging SV now. MW has so many races ruined because of this start/clutch whatever problems, this can’t be that hard as SV never seem to have a bad one that looses 5+ places before the first corner. RBR now said they will get to the bottom of this…but half the season has gone…isn’t that a bit late…the intention is not a good one for MW, it can’t be said if this happen often to SV. SV is good but if the equipment keep playing up on him, he’s got going to win no matter how good he is. RBR certainly wouldn’t let that happen to SV.

  • Turbophoenix

    Really is such a shame, because I know that Webber would have improved results if he could get his starts up to scratch. Sure, this time it may have been the clutch, but I’m sure that Webber himself just is not consistent with his starts, and these days the start is half the battle.

  • bmendon

    This is not the first time Webber complained about clutch trouble. Posted on September 17, 2011 – http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2011/09/christian-horner-explains-mark-webbers-problem-with-starts-this-season/

    Seems like the clutch is becoming his default excuse.

  • MIE

    Webber stated on the grid that he was having clutch difficulty when Couthard interviewed him for the BBC. He had made two practice starts in coming to the grid, and the clutch had been inconsistent with the team unable to find the bite point. There seems relativley little for the driver to do in the start, it seems more critical the the software engineers can find the correct bite point from the practice starts. It just seems that Webber’s crew seem unable to do this consistently, although Vettel doesn’t have the same issue.
    Either Webber is doing something wrong (or inconsistently) in his practice starts, or Red Bull have the apprentice assembling the number 2 car’s clutch. Perhaps the same individual is also responsible for the KERS on that car? ;)

    • MIE

      From the BBC Sport website:
      1246:
      Mark Webber is not a happy bunny. The Australian has an issue with his Red Bull’s clutch – not for the first time. “I’m disappointed with the clutch performance,” he tells David Coulthard.

      “Two practice starts were an absolute mess. I don’t know what’s going to happen off the start. The guys are trying to sort something out. I’m not happy about that. Hopefully we can pull it out of the bag.”

    • James

      @MIE. I concur with your suspicion of how things went wrong… one would think it can’t be that hard to follow the exact start procedures guided by the crew. although drivers do occasionally slips up once or twice in a season but this is beyond driver’s slips up, I suspected this is more the cause of the equipment which the team admitted too. there are thousand things that can go wrong, if any of the parts of the car played up unpredictably, no drivers can do anything about it. OR the 2nd car was handled and guided by the less experience crew of apprentices and trainees….on day when MW quali at front row he got swamped, when he was at the back he made good start, it’s just his luck even on his last season. as for SV luck has been with him for years that even if he has 2 DNF now he will still win the championship as far as luck goes.

  • The good clucth they took off Marks car and gave it to the German

  • Mr. Obvious

    It is implausible to me that an otherwise highly accomplished, successful, and competitive driver such as Webber wouldn’t overcome whatever failings he may have on the grid. — It simply doesn’t add up. If I were his chief mechanic, race engineer, or agent, I would make an absolute epic stink about this whole situation, repeatedly and often, until RB gets it figured out.

  • Good Grief

    It is obvious that he’s got issues with starts. It’s hardly just this year either. He’s made some spot on starts too but we don’t pay attention to those as much. Also I watched the replay of the start a bunch of times and it looks like the whole train on the dirty side got off slow until Alonso. Alonso (damn it) as usual made a devious start and some other cars on that side got on with it too, but it wasn’t just Mark that got off stupid slow.

  • jonnowoody

    Red Bull have also addressed how Mark is to finish. Sixth at the Grand Prix of Brazil.