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GP Week : Issue 180
There are good days and bad days in racing. And then there are weekends like the one Mark Webber suffered in Shanghai, where everything that could have gone wrong did. The Australian driver’s bad luck started during Saturday’s qualifying session, when the Red Bull driver suffered a “fuel pressure issue” (read: ran out of gas) in the second session and was forced to stop his car on track before setting a fast enough banker to ensure smooth progress into Q3. The stricken RB9 had a paltry 150ml of fuel thanks to “a bowser issue” , well short of the litre demanded by FIA regulations. As a consequence, Webber was disqualified from the session and moved to the back of the grid. The team did what they could to give their driver every possible advantage, tweaking the car for improved straight- line speed and starting their driver from the pit lane. It was a strategy that had proven itself to be very effective when used by Sebastian Vettel in Abu Dhabi last year. “You could not script it, could you?” Webber said, incredulously, when all was said and done. “The qualifying was an absolute nightmare and then I got dropped to the back of the grid. The start of the race was going okay and we elected to get rid of the other [tyre compound] quite quickly and then regrouped from there quite quickly by coming through the field. “Then we got to Jean-Eric at Turn 6 and, yes, I was coming from a reasonable distance behind, but he knew I was there. Initially under braking I thought Jean-Eric was being very co-operative under braking and I thought that's fair enough and we'd roll round there together and he'd give me some room. But then he came down [towards the apex] and I couldn't get out of it at that point. It probably looks quite clumsy, but it was disappointing that we made contact.” The collision caused some damage to the RB9, and Webber made his way slowly back to the pits. But his run of disaster was far from over – the team released their driver before his left rear wheel had been fully secured. They then instructed him to return to the pits slowly and with care, but he was unable to complete the lap before the wheel came off and bounced along the track – narrowly avoiding a number of cars, including that of teammate Sebastian Vettel – and Webber was stranded on the grass. The Australian’s bad luck is set to continue into next week, with a three- place grid penalty for the Bahrain Grand Prix. Irrespective of what he said to the press in the immediate aftermath of the Shanghai race, in the stewards’ room Webber admitted to having caused the collision with Vergne, and was penalised accordingly. From bad to worse to absolutely terrible – Webber’s misery F1 >>> CHINA 14 GPWEEK.com // 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: