Sunday, September 02, 2012
Webber knew about gearbox penalty weeks ago
By Alan Baldwin
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium (Reuters) - Australian Mark Webber knew all through the August holiday break that he would have a five place grid penalty for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.
The Red Bull title contender revealed after qualifying at Spa on Saturday that he had been told after the Hungarian Grand Prix at the end of July that his car would require a gearbox change for the following race.
The team had confirmed his suspicions on the Wednesday after Budapest when the car was stripped down before Formula One went on its long August break but he had not told anyone.
"I had a holiday on that," smiled Webber, second overall in the championship and 40 points behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso with nine races remaining.
Webber was eighth in Hungary after suffering gearbox problems during the race, which he said had cost him 6/10ths of a second a lap.
"That was enough of a penalty, I lost points with that in Budapest... but anyway we got the car to the end," he said. "But the gearbox was too damaged to run here so we had to put a fresh one in."
Had he not finished in Hungary, he could have changed the gearbox without penalty but he would have lost out on the four points he gained.
He will start 12th on Sunday, two places behind team mate and double world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Alonso will line up in fifth place with his three closest challengers behind him and the comfort that his car has been quicker on Sunday this season than Saturday.
"If this result could be repeated tomorrow, honestly I'd sign for it now," said the Spaniard, the only man to win three races this year.
Webber hoped it might be less straightforward.
"Strategy and understanding the tyres will be important," he said. "There's still a long way to go."