Webber: I'd rather sprint
Mark Webber thinks that F1 drivers have had to sacrifice the sheer enjoyment of driving on the limit in order to make the sport more exciting.
By Mike Wise in Monaco
Last Updated: 24/05/12 8:48am
Mark Webber thinks that Formula 1 drivers have had to sacrifice the sheer enjoyment of driving on the limit in order to make the sport more exciting.
The trade-off between the two has been a major talking point during the early races of the season, which have so far brought five different winners as well as plenty of action.
The high wear rate of Pirelli's current tyre range, together with the vagaries associated with getting them to work properly in certain track conditions, are seen as the main cause, with drivers now forced to manage their rubber more than ever.
In Bahrain, Michael Schumacher spoke out against the current formula, with Webber admitting that he too preferred the low-fuel 'sprint' era of several years ago when drivers could push harder and tyres were not such a limiting factor.
"The way the races have run in the last few years is different to previous years. In the era where we had pit stops with refuelling, the races were extremely aggressive," the Red Bull driver said on Wednesday.
"Then (in 2010) we went to no refuelling, so already the phase of the racing changed a little bit, in terms of a little bit of endurance aspect started to come into it, in terms of driving style and pacing yourself a little bit more, probably.
"And then we had the change with the Pirellis and that's probably been the biggest change in driver technique and style that I can remember - certainly in my career and I've done a few Grands Prix.
"I've won one race on Pirellis - but even when the winners are winning of course they are not driving at 100 per cent and that's just the way it is, because you can't.
"You need to get the car to the end and produce the best lap times that you can for the duration of the race. That's the way it is now."
Whilst enjoying the challenge that the tyre limitations now pose, Webber maintained that he preferred F1's previous style of racing.
The Australian also suggested that he was not alone in his opinion - but admitted the end result might not necessarily have been the most thrilling for spectators.
"I still enjoy driving a Formula 1 car, I still love working with the engineers, driving the most amazing tracks against some great opposition. I enjoy that part of it but we always have to change, we always have to evolve as the technical side of the sport changes," he added.
"Personally, I enjoyed the sprint races and the refuelling, probably all of the drivers did, but the racing was not super-exciting.
"It was more precise, you had to be more precise, you had to be more on the limit and really, really feeling the car for the whole two hours, but that's not how it is now. We have a different set of challenges and that's what we've got to do."