x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Webber blames sluggish start at Sepang

The Australian was left to bemoan a poor start for wrecking his chances of winning the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Mark Webber passes the flag of Malaysia on his way to a second-place finish in Sepang.
Mark Webber passes the flag of Malaysia on his way to a second-place finish in Sepang.

Mark Webber was left to bemoan a poor start for wrecking his chances of winning the Malaysian Grand Prix. The Australian was slow off the line from pole and his Red Bull-Renault teammate Sebastian Vettel capitalised by out-braking him into the first corner to take the lead. Webber was forced to follow Vettel for the rest of the race and he acknowledged the opening seconds had sealed his fate.

"I got a little bit of wheelspin and on the run to first corner Seb had a big tow," he said. "I didn't really know where Nico [Rosberg] was either, I didn't know whether to go middle or left, so I braked late, I had a bit of a better exit and the fight continued up to turn four. "It was a good fight but he deserved the victory." Third-placed Rosberg said he had got all he could out of his Mercedes after finishing a distant third behind the two Red Bulls.

It was the German's first podium with the team and he is now tied for fifth in the title standings. "I knew it was going to be difficult to follow the Red Bulls. I was struggling in the first stint with the options as [Robert] Kubica could stay pretty close which wasn't the plan," he said. "Once on to prime tyres, I was comfortable. I was a bit worried about [Lewis] Hamilton initially and I was expecting him to be fast but he didn't get past people behind me."

Hamilton was delighted with sixth after starting from 20th due a poor qualifying session. "If we were further up I think we would have had a better race, but I think it was a great job by the team and the car was fantastic," he said. "It's a positive thing going into the next race. I'm very happy with that result. I think to come from 20th on the grid to sixth, I don't know how many points that is, but it's definitely a good result."

Hamilton fared better than teammate Jenson Button, whose gamble on an early pit-stop failed to pay off. The world champion moved up the order, but having to run 46 laps on hard tyres led to them wearing badly and he was easy prey for Felipe Massa's Ferrari and would have been passed by Fernando Alonso as well had the Ferrari man's engine not blown. He said: "The problem was I was on the prime for so long. The cars behind me were two seconds quicker. To try and hold them off was very difficult."

* Compiled by Graham Caygill, with agencies