Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, August 23rd, 2013 (F1Plus / Graham Keilloh) - This season is another that, so far, has been dominated by Red Bull, with the team topping the constructors’ table and Sebastian Vettel leading the drivers’ standings. Nevertheless, Mercedes has recently shown more consistency in maintaining its prodigious qualifying pace throughout a race. This included in the last round, at Hungary, which Lewis Hamilton won in dominant fashion, and the Mercedes team is now firmly placed in second in the constructors’ standings behind the Bulls.
Red Bull’s Mark Webber was, however, cautious when asked whether Mercedes was now set to be the Red Bull team’s biggest challenger on a consistent basis, thinking that its Hungary win owed something to Hamilton having a good record at that particular circuit.
"I think that we had Mercedes covered in the Nurburgring" said Webber. "At Budapest Lewis (Hamilton) is very special, there’s no driver that’s going to be touching him there in my opinion…he proved that in a s**tbox at McLaren as well when he won and was very very strong there. He’s been quick there and he proved that again in the Merc."
Webber instead named Lotus as a more consistent challenger to Red Bull: "I think that Lotus is the most stable car across all tracks, they’ve been very very good, it’s just a little bit here and there but they’ve been very strong and a real threat throughout. Ferrari and Mercedes are a little bit more inconsistent, Red Bull and Lotus have been probably that bit more consistent at this stage."
This weekend marks the anniversary of the multi-car accident caused by Lotus pilot Romain Grosjean at the start of last year’s Spa race, which earned Grosjean a one-race ban. Grosjean is a driver of whom Webber has been critical in public, though when asked if the Frenchman has improved since last year’s notorious accident and ban Webber thought so, but also believes that there is some way to go.
"I think he’s changed. He had to obviously, it was an extremely difficult period for him…I think he’s done a better job this year. But it wouldn’t be difficult let’s be honest, compared to what he did last year it wouldn’t be difficult to improve. His move on Massa was very, very good in Budapest but (there was) a bit of a weird one with Jenson, what he did at the top chicane. So every now and again you still see snapshots, but I think he’s improved from last year."