Mark Webber has expressed surprise at the gap to the front-running cars after qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, although he admitted that his position is about where he expected to be. Webber qualified fourth for Sunday’s 53-lap race, half a second slower than pole-sitter Fernando Alonso.
“I would not have put the money on the gap being that big but the position is probably where we expected to be,” he said after qualifying.
“Fernando is very, very strong – Jenson is obviously on a different downforce level so they have split their cars how they are going around this race track – which is something some of the other teams have looked at as well. The position is what we expected, the gap is probably a little bit bigger than we expected.”
He added, jokingly: “I think they have got the V10 out today and did a good job!”
Currently second in the championship to Lewis Hamilton by just three points, Webber hopes not to lose too much ground in the championship race, but might take some comfort from Hamilton qualifying right behind him in fifth place.
When asked about his hopes for Sunday’s race, Webber answered: “Fifty-three laps, very boring, and hopefully sitting here tomorrow night with you guys with some good points which we could definitely get. A boring race would be nice. If we can chip forward a little bit, who knows. Let’s see.”
Webber has endured a difficult weekend, with two practice session disrupted by mechanical issues – a water leak in FP1 and an airbox issue in FP3 – and admitted he had some worries about completing the full race distance.
“A little bit, yes. We need to look at it and work on it with Renault, and see what the best plan is. It is not the first time we have seen this, we have experience with this kind of problem and we just need to chip away with it.”
But his key priority, he added, was to survive the first corner, which is a notorious accident blackspot at the Monza circuit.
“All the drivers know the score here. It is a particular challenging first part but we’ve all been there before. It is the same for quite a few tracks this year, we’ve seen that it can be difficult. It is different to Copse – but not much we can do about it.”
Last year’s race at Monza saw Webber’s championship chances come to an end with a spin on the opening lap at the second chicane – Webber will certainly be hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself in 2010.
[Original image via LAT]