LONDON, Aug 3 (Reuters) - While some of his Formula One rivals head for the beach or jet off to glamorous hideaways during the August break, Red Bull’s Mark Webber is making the most of the London Olympics.
He has been to the basketball, was at the swimming on Friday evening to see Michael Phelps’s last individual race in the Olympic pool, will be going to the hockey on Monday and athletics the weekend after.
“I‘m loving it, brilliant,” he told Reuters in an appearance for sponsor Qantas just down the road from the beach volleyball venue in central London. “There’s no racing stuff going on.”
In fact, even if the next race is not until the first weekend of September at the classic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, there is always something rumbling on in the Formula One world.
Webber’s Red Bull team, the reigning champions and championship leaders, have been embroiled in controversies over ride-height and engine mapping systems that the governing FIA have clamped down on.
The Australian doubted Red Bull were very different to other teams in seeking to push development to the limit but somehow it was always his team that made the headlines.
“I think it’s incredibly boring for most people,” said the man currently second overall in the championship and 40 points behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso with nine races remaining.
”All we can do is keep passing every single test and we have....it’s not a one-make series, you can design a car to the regulations and that’s what we do.
“I know other teams have been asked to address things with their cars, but they (the FIA directives) are not for general consumption. And some of ours do make the general consumption, which is just the way it’s been.”
Last weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix saw Red Bull forced to change their engine mapping. There were also questions about a seemingly manually-adjustable ride-height system.
Webber said Red Bull technical director Adrian Newey was just doing what he was supposed to do.
”Is he the Steve Jobs of Formula One?,“ asked the Australian. ”If Steve Jobs had not got up and said the first Apple computer was the one to have, we wouldn’t have had our iPads. And that’s what Adrian does.
“We know there are a lot of teams that copy what we have and there’s a lot of things where the interpretation of the rules gets changed and we take it on the chin as well.”
Webber was sure there would be something else along soon.
“Whether it’s with the wings or whatever - and there’ll be something else I promise you that will pop up - we will always pass every single test,” he said. “Not one single team has protested us, because they know it’s within the rules.”
Webber looked forward to Spa, a race he loves but has never won, but refused to talk about his championship chances until much later in the season. He dismissed Alonso’s assertions that Ferrari did not have the fastest car.
”I don’t know who’s got the fastest car,“ he said. ”There’s always talk that it’s not the fastest car, but you need the most consistent one. I don’t think anyone’s got the fastest car at the moment.
”We did after Valencia and then Fernando had it at Silverstone until six laps to go and then all of a sudden we had it again. And then McLaren turned up for a few weeks. And Lotus.
“Kimi (Raikkonen) pushed Lewis (Hamilton) over the line in Budapest and before that we had Fernando winning with JB (Jenson Button) there and me in Silverstone. So it is up and down,” added Webber.
“We do know we can go there (to Spa) and have a chance, no question about it. But I don’t think anyone will sail off into the distance. Those days are numbered.”
Webber almost won the title in 2010, losing out in devastating fashion in the final race in Abu Dhabi to team mate Sebastian Vettel who had not led the championship all season.
There were plenty who wrote the Australian off after that, with many suggesting he would not get a second chance. Webber said it gave him “huge satisfaction” to be back in the hunt.
Watching Australian swimmer James Magnussen, who missed out on a men’s 100 freestyle gold by 0.01 of a second in a race he had seemed destined to win also struck a chord.
”It’s called the journey,“ said Webber, speaking from experience. ”He will learn absolutely a massive amount from that. Even though it’s so raw and hard to take at the time, it’s going to take obviously a while to get over but days will just keep moving on.
”That’s the amazing thing about sport. You put a huge amount in to it and you want to get the most out of it. There’s expectation and results and targets you want to hit. And sometimes they don’t always come off.
“But he will be stronger for it.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Patrick Johnston)