“Mark doesn’t normally get the best of starts”

2013 Australian Grand Prix

Okay, we all know the sorry tale of Mark Webber’s start in last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix; he started on the front row and before the first corner found himself down in seventh place.

Afterwards Webber revealed he had no KERS at the start and that the telemetry from his car couldn’t be transmitted back to the Red Bull garage. That prompted Christian Horner to hint at a conspiracy theory involving McLaren, who provides the ECUs for all the cars on the grid, which was a little cute.

McLaren responded by issuing an apology of sorts:

“The electronic units themselves ran without incident in Melbourne, but there was a software-related issue that meant that Mark Webber’s Red Bull Racing car’s garage data system had to be re-started during the formation lap. That disrupted his preparations for the start of the race, for which Mark and the team has our apology. We are working together with them to prevent any recurrence.”

All that reminded us of a quote from Webber’s former race engineer Ciaron Pilbeam, now with Lotus, who said this ahead of last year’s Korean Grand Prix, where Mark started from pole with Vettel alongside in P2:

“Mark doesn’t normally get the best of starts.”

Pilbeam made the comment in a discussion with Sky Sports F1 pundit and former racer Anthony Davidson, who added:

“The initial uptake of the clutch is good, his reaction from the lights going out, around about two and a half to three tenths of a second in reaction time, is good and matches Vettel. But it’s what happens after that which is important and his feeling of the wheelspin and when to apply the KERS—the details of a start—is slightly missing compared to Seb.”

On the grid before the start of the race in Melbourne Webber revealed to Channel 10 that both he and Seb had asked for more starting practice during winter testing and felt they hadn’t done enough. Not withstanding the technical problems that affected Mark on the weekend, wouldn’t it be common sense for Red Bull to at least allow Mark plenty of practice starts? Remember, he had the poorest starting record of the front runners in 2012, in terms of positions lost from the start.

We’re not sure of the reasons why Red Bull didn’t allow more starting practice, but it’s kind of important, you know. To use an AFL analogy, it strikes us as being similar to sports scientists not allowing players to practice goal kicking at training because their work loads are too high. Odd, seeing the game is ultimately about kicking goals.

True, there is a lot more to driving a great F1 race than just getting away from the grid fast and clean, but it makes life a lot easier if you don’t have to keep making up the three or four positions you lose at the start of most races.

[Pic: Ferrari | Thanks to Al and Tim for the tip]