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GP Week : Issue 94
So there he was, jammed in behind Fernando's Ferrari with about as much chance of passing him as nding a waterhole on the Nullarbor Plain. Yes, the Red Bull was all over the Ferrari in all the corners; and, no, he couldn't live with it in a straight line. All Mark Webber could do, on a weekend when a true and pure athlete had to concede that his team-mate had got the better of him, was watch and wait. Watch for a Fernando mistake. Wait for the pit stops. Unless... Unless a Safety Car was deployed and resulted in a bit of confusion. Then Mark and his guys might just take the gamble to stay out on Bridgestone Options and gain track position over Fernando. It could be worth a shot. There would be nothing to lose -- nothing other than the feeling of warm certainty that comes with following the established F1 pattern. Think differently in F1 these days and you run the risk of collective derision born of envy -- envy that F1 people harbour for race- winning teams like RBR. "How could he blow it like that? Why didn't he stop with everyone else?" It was a brave call, then -- but it was unquestionably the right call. Perhaps Felipe Massa could have tried the same thing, although Rob Smedley kind of put the kybosh on that early in the race by reminding Felipe even then that he was not near enough to Mark to be in a position to take the strategy risk. Personally, if I had been Rob, I would have gone for it: Felipe was always going to be kinder to his options than Frantic Fernando Alonso; if not, what else was there to lose? As days go, therefore, this August 1 opened right up for Mark Webber. One minute he had been wondering how he was not going to finish third; the next he was in nirvana: here is a clear track -- a lovely track, as it happens, full of ups and downs and sweepers and point-and-squirts -- and here is the world's best racing car. Get out there and build up as big a lead as you can. Focus. Enjoy. The moment is yours. The intention at that point, of course, was for Mark to beat Fernando: there was no suggestion of a race win. Sebastian Vettel, who had dominated the weekend from his fourth consecutive pole, owned the Hungarian GP in just about every conceiv- able department. As is often the case, it was the inconceiv- able that proved to be his undoing. By his own admission, Sebastian "fell asleep" as he followed Mark and the Safety Car towards the restart. This was to some extent understandable, I think, for concen- tration is the biggest enemy of the domi- nant driver; Ayrton Senna felt so strongly about it that he introduced a new term ("focus") to describe it. Jim Clark used to talk more about the importance of concentra- tion than ever he did about such mundane things as "car balance" or "grip levels". It looked as though Sebastian Vettel had Hungary in the bag -- until he dozed off while the Safety Car was in play ... 24