Mark Webber will take great confidence from his charging performance in the Chinese Grand Prix that saw him turn a disastrous qualifying performance into a podium finish, claims his team boss Christian Horner.
A combination of factors in Q1 – including a weigh-in delay, under-heated tires and lack of running in final practice – meant Webber failed to make it through to the second part of qualifying and started 18th on the grid. However, his early qualifying exit meant he had plenty of sets of fresh option tires for the race and he charged through the field,coming close to overhauling teammate and pole position starter Sebastian Vettel.
After early season troubles for Webber, that third-place finish has got his season back on track, and team principal Horner is convinced it will help lift his spirits.
"I think it is great for his confidence to get a good result, especially after a great drive," explained Horner. "He had a tough ride in qualifying but he kept his head down, did not lose his focus and he has delivered a great race."
Horner has no doubts that the way the 2011 rules work and the way Pirelli's tire degradation has changed the complexion of races, played a key role in helping Webber turn around his fortunes.
"It worked fantastically for Mark," he said. "He nearly did it last week in Malaysia and he came from farther back to get on the podium in China.
"At the beginning of the race, he was racing the Lotuses and by the end of the race he was racing the McLarens. He was even overtaken by [Kamui] Kobayashi in the first stint. So the strategy worked really well for him. He drove a strong race, he was out of position and he had three brand-new sets of option tires available to him.
"You had one shot at it last year because they tended to be a one-stop race, whereas this year you have a few more scenarios."