Mark Webber says he is not taking anything for granted ahead of the new Formula 1 season after the Red Bull driver set a new benchmark time of 1m19.299sec in testing at Jerez on Friday.
The Australian revealed after his proper consistently dry day of running that he believed the new RB6 to be a "good car," but that it was too early to say how it compares to that of his McLaren and Ferrari rivals.
Q. How representative were the times? You did a 1m19.3sec...
Mark Webber: Yeah. It wasn't too bad today, it was good to get some dry running in. It was a mixture of very high and other different fuel loads. It's got to be done because every dry lap is pretty important these days, so this is a lot better than we expected today. Also, tomorrow looks half decent.
It's a good baseline for us to work on next week as well in terms of consistent testing. This is the first time we have had a consistent track, so hopefully next week we can start to home in on a few more specific things.
Q. Have you had to re-jig the plan for the last couple of days given that the last two have been a washout?
MW: Not really. Both Seb [Vettel] and I wanted to test similar things because as a team that's the things we had highlighted to test. He would have been doing the things I was doing today if it had been drier for him sooner. I think that we both do the same things for the team so it was a question of the conditions controlling what we would test. We need more track time to evaluate things.
Q. You didn't seem to do any really long runs compared to some of the other guys.
MW: We did a few. We had one red flag I think, but yes we would have liked to have done at least one more. We'll probably do one a bit longer than we had planned for tomorrow to make up for it.
Q. What are the new tires like?
MW: The fronts don't seem to be going too bad today. They are behaving differently than last week already so we have got some good information on the fronts. And the rears are certainly of interest to get your head around! We know that Jerez is a pretty special venue for tires – in terms of how demanding it can be on them.
I think everyone is learning a lot about the tires as they go along. Even if we had had this spec of tire on the low-fuel cars last year it still would have taken a learning curve. It's just that it's coupled with a new type of tire along with a heavier car.
Q. Which compound were you guys running with today?
Q. There was a story in the news that you thought about leaving F1 after your accident...
MW: No it wasn't after my accident. It was like the Williams times, times when I wasn't enjoying every single moment in my career, and there are times when I think I might go and do something else. But the fire was re-lit with Red Bull, basically. I was very excited about working with these guys.
It's absolutely nothing against Williams at all, it's just that part of my career was frustrating and I wasn't enjoying my work as much as I would have liked to. But it changed at Red Bull. Totally 180 [degrees] the other way. It's put some fuel on the fire now and I enjoy my work again.
Q. So there is nothing about Formula 1 now that makes you still think of leaving the sport?
MW: No. The slow cars that we'll have at the start of the race this year, things like that where it's disappointing to be going backward in terms of lap time, or in terms of how F1 is as a driver... You always want to be pushing flat-out, that's how I like F1 to be and, in the past – particularly last year and the few years before that – that's how it has been. But this year is a little different.
But this is a challenge for the driver to get used to. We have a new regulation all the time, traction control on, traction control off, V8s, V10s, we always have a different situation. So this is a new challenge for us this year with the fuel and I don't see anything that is particularly frustrating me or making me change my mind over my position.
Q. Has it been a benefit for you working with Sebastian?
MW: It was very enjoyable last year. A healthy rivalry, for sure. It made me very determined and motivated to do well, because you have someone like that you have to be on the top of your game. I had a lot of good races last year. Qualifying was a little bit more demanding for me, particularly going into Q3. Q2 was interesting last year, but now at least we will have low fuel going all the way through so let's see how we go this year.
All in all we have the same relationship now as we did before we were teammates, which is a very good sign for us two, and that is also a credit to the team and how it has been managed from the management at the top through to the drivers and how we go about our business. It's not a team where there are unhealthy vibes going in one direction or the other. It's a healthy team and that's why it helps the drivers have a good relationship.
Q. Have you ever had a really bad teammate in your career?
MW: Not really. I've had different ones, but not bad ones.
Q. From your experiences so far in testing, do you think Adrian Newey has come up with another miracle of aerodynamics?
MW: Adrian, unfortunately, always moves the bar very high for himself so he makes a rod for his own back he gets to such a high level. He's such a genius. Obviously last year there were a lot of people who were copying some of his concepts this year – which is a real credit to Adrian because he was the guy who thought of these things last year.
But he is a very competitive guy, whether it is on a tennis court or in racing cars he is competitive, so he is always thinking of ways to find performance and luckily enough for him, he is a big part of the performance of the car. We are happy about that because he is very clever and he generally knows what things to attack. It's all prioritization and what areas you want to focus on.
He's generally pretty good. For sure he has had some difficult cars, in the McLaren days there were a few that didn't work out, but generally Adrian is a good guy to have in your corner. He has won so many races and is one of the all-time greats in terms of F1 design.
Q. Do you think that Red Bull is a step ahead again, compared to the others?
MW: Today was pretty good, next week might be different. We need to keep an eye on things as they progress in the early part of the championship. I promise you that in Malaysia we won't be talking about the second test in Jerez, things change fast in F1.
Q. Today in the dry, could you sense some improvements in comparison with the old car?
MW: Yeah. When the car is very, very heavy, it's a different ball game. Plus the tires...it's like Roger Federer with a tennis racket – the tires are crucial for us. The tires are that different as they are. It's so hard to compare. But the basics of the car are very good – we have a good car. We still have more learning to do and there is a lot of hard work to be done.