Webber confident ahead of Malaysia GP

Red Bull driver says improvements to his car will enable him to challenge team mate Sebastian Vettel.

    Red Bull are considering using the Kinetic Energy Recovery System in Sunday's race [AFP]

    Red Bull driver Mark Webber is cutting a confident figure ahead of the Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix this weekend.

    The Australian struggled compared to teammate and reigning drivers' champion Sebastian Vettel in the season-opener in Melbourne, Australia, labouring into a distant fifth place as he negotiated tire degradation and was forced to pit earlier than hoped, but Webber is confident his problems have been fixed and he will be more competitive in the second race of the season.

    "There were a few issues we found post-race which certainly did not help the situation," he said.

    "We are not going to go into it too much further than that. We will do a better job this weekend, get more out of the car and hang out at the front like we normally have been."

    KERS testing

    Vettel will go into Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix as a heavy favourite, buoyed by his comprehensive victory in Melbourne a fortnight ago.

    Chasing a fourth consecutive win spanning the end of last season and the start of this one, the 23-year-old German could also have the added bonus of the KERS system power boost that the team opted against using at Albert Park.

    Red Bull are expected to make a final decision whether to use the kinetic energy recovery system after Friday practice but with Vettel so dominant in Melbourne, his biggest danger is likely to be the notoriously volatile Malaysian climate.

    Rain is forecast throughout the race weekend and with the new Pirelli tyres expected to degrade quicker than they did at Melbourne in the sweltering Malaysian temperatures, team tactics will play a huge role on Sunday's outcome.

    Webber said it will be a "no-brainer'' to use KERS provided the team can manage to integrate it with the chassis.

    Red Bull surprisingly did not use the device in Australia, yet still outpaced its KERS-equipped rivals as Vettel drove to a comfortable win.

    While the team elected to forego the intermittent speed boosts for the sake of better balance around the Albert Park street circuit, the long straights of Sepang put a greater emphasis upon straight-line speed.

    "We will get some more confidence tomorrow,'' Webber said on Thursday.

    "Its a no-brainer. You need KERS. If it's working reliably and well, you should have it on the car.''

    Hamilton hopeful

    McLaren's Lewis Hamilton was delighted to finish 22.3 seconds adrift of Vettel in a car that had suffered considerable damage to its undertray in the final session and the Briton expects a truer picture of the championship pecking order to emerge this week.

    "After the pace we showed in Melbourne, I think we can have another good race in Malaysia," Hamilton said.

    "Albert Park is a great track, but a circuit like Sepang is where the differences between the cars will start to become clearer.

    "I'm really looking forward to using KERS Hybrid and the DRS (adjustable rear wing) too... the rapid change of direction you experience when the car is really in the groove is phenomenal around here."

    Red Bull's chief rivals, Ferrari and McLaren, are partly worried that KERS will make the blue cars even faster and put a premature end to the championship fight, and partly hoping KERS will throw out the enviable balance of the Red Bulls.

    "Its a bit early to kill the championship,'' Ferrari's Felipe Massa said.

    "Maybe they will improve even more, but it’s very difficult to express how much they will improve or not.''

    McLaren's Jenson Button said Red Bull would be cautious about the potential side effects of KERS.

    "If they use it here, it's a very new system and there are always reliability issues,'' Button said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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