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GP Week : Issue 45
> F1SPAIN> MARK Webber’s third place comes at an interesting time in terms of the most talked-about team- mate contest of the year – but also illustrates just how quickly, prematurely even, ‘the media’can make its decision and put its lot on the trendy side of the fence. Firstly, I have to confess, I am a Webber fan. Not just because I am based in Oz, but because the guy has, in my view, delivered for many seasons, albeit in the wrong car(s). Here in Oz, the general media – in reware the oemature urneyman particular the ubiquitous radio talk- back shows – have, in their brazenly uninformed manner, written him off as a perennial loser – indeed, even the main national papers just go with bland agency-supplied F1 race coverage these days. Yet the informed European experts continue to put Webber in their annual top five with regularity. What the ...? The arrival of Sebastien Vettel has been greeted globally as something akin to The Second Coming. And there is little doubt he is a star, a genuine huge talent – certainly the most complete team-mate Webber has ever had to deal with. But is the contest over? I don’t think so, but clearly there are those who do ... Like the websites who already refer to Vettel as “Red Bull team leader”and – the most interesting one – UK TV commentator guru Martin Brundle. When Webber and his crew took the Chris Lambden GPWeek Publisher option of a long, long first stop, filling the car to the brim, Brundle missed it, and then missed the point completely. He put the sudden 5-second gap down to Webber having a slow out-lap, or going off the road! In fact, the Aussie had taken on a strategy that would give him several extra laps on the faster, soft tyre, albeit with a weight handicap of … 25kgs at that point? He piled in laps through that stint just two, three, four-tenths slower than the Massa/Vettel train, despite the significant weight and, when the two stopped, was easily in position to stroll past into third. It was a decisive statement – but Brundle, and his less-than-impressive new off-sider, hadn’t really noticed what was going on. That’s what pre- conceived opinion can do for you. Brundle is currently, understandably, in love with Button and the Brawns versus young Vettel. He is, normally, the very best source of informed comment, without question, and the last person you’d expect to get wrapped up in the hype. But there you are … a lesson for all of us. It ain’t over until it’s over … and next, there’s Monaco … Deja-vu for Rubens? THE expression on Rubens’ face at the press conference said it all. It looked like he might burst into tears. When someone realises that they’ve been dudded – again – it must be the worst feeling. When Jock Clear came on the radio, semi-live on TV, to say “Er, Rubens, Jenson has changed his strategy …”you could almost see the poor little guy’s head drop. Having copped it for six years, at Subtitle: when strategy equates to ‘team orders’ Jenson knows it, and is saying the right things, but Ross Brawn knows what is required to win championships – and that’s an early decision on who is your main man, and supporting him at the expense of the other. It’s going to be tough for Rubens Ferrari – having strategies forced on him that guaranteed he wouldn’t hinder Schumacher – it’s happening again. from here on, knowing that – unless mechanical gremlins or a shunt intervene – he is not going to, or be allowed to, beat Jenson. That’s the way it is. That’s F1. But hey, four months ago, the little guy didn’t have a job. Look on the bright side! 29 opinion