2011 Season -

Johnny Herbert Interview

[caption id="attachment_1239" align="alignleft" width="444" caption="Image ©Andrew Hone"]McLaren Australian GP[/caption] Johnny Herbert spoke with 422race.com recently about his role as the driver steward at the first Formula One race of the season in Australia, and his thoughts about the various penalties handed out in Melbourne. Speaking about Sauber's disqualification after the race, Herbert said: "This year it was good. There were not so many problems that we had to deal with. Probably it was a surprise how fast the Red Bull was. The only issue we had unfortunately was with the Sauber, but I'm sure they will fix that and it won't be a problem in the future. It was very sad, because they did such a good job and it was such a small thing. But you have rules and unfortunately you have to stick to them. If you say 'That's no problem', you make the rules irrelevant." On Jenson Button's drive through penalty, Herbert continued: "That's the same with Button and the chicane. Everybody knows if you have an advantage you have to change back positions. I was quite surprised they didn't do that. That corner is a very fast one and to go around the outside is very difficult to do, nearly impossible. I think you just need to be smart enough to make a decision. For me, as a racing driver, it was better to let possibly Alonso past as well in the process than doing a drive through penalty, because you lose more by doing that. I understand that he was very frustrated being behind Felipe for so long." Rubens Barrichello also received a penalty after making a big driver error, which put an end to Nico Rosberg’s. Speaking about this Herbert commented: "Again, you look at what happened and it was a big error from Rubens. As stewards - not just me, but the other three - we have to look at it and decide if it was a bad move. He was a long long way back, he hit Rosberg and we had to do something. If you allow it to happen, things will just get possibly worse and everybody would be doing the same thing." Whilst Johnny Herbert also had something to say about Lewis Hamilton’s comments about Vettel being no better than Mansell: "That's not so bad, then (laughs). I think there are some games, I also read Lewis saying that Red Bull has to get the KERS system on the car if they want to be competitive. Just little games that are being played to try and disrupt Sebastian and Red Bull. It's the normal thing in Formula One to have these words sometimes. I like Lewis, his style, sometimes he makes probably a few mistakes too many, but he's learned from that. It's just part of the game, but Sebastian is not that type, he just does the job he needs to do. We have to see what he did last year with his comeback in the latter part of the season against Mark, he was very very quick. He's still very young. For me, personally, the way he has developed from winning the championship last year is that this year he's more complete. He's very confident, he has so much belief in himself but also in the team, which gives him the right feeling. I'm sure Lewis has the same feeling at McLaren. The Red Bull is the fastest car at the moment, for sure, but I think Sebastian has more in his pocket, there is still more speed from him." Johnny Herbert was also surprised by the performance of the Ferrari being a little off pace: "I was probably a bit surprised they weren't a little bit more competitive. It was probably a surprise for them as well, but they didn't quite have the pace. In the race, it was a little bit better for Alonso, but maybe they need more time to adjust to the tyre. Fernando, especially, got a bad start and that made his race very very difficult. At the moment I don't think they are far from McLaren, and Lewis and Fernando are very similar. But the gap between them and Red Bull is very big at the moment." Herbert also spoke about the new adjustable rear wing: "When the idea of the adjustable wing came, it was not to make people overtake without a problem. It wasn't just to make you go 20kmh quicker so that you can pass no problem. I think what we saw in Australia was that the wing helped a little bit. We didn't see many overtaking with that, but I think it can be fine-tuned, maybe they could do it two times to make it a little bit easier to pass on another straight. It's not a bad thing, the drivers will have no problem for the rest of the season - there were some concerns for pushing another button. For me, there will be no problems, I think it will be second-nature, automatic. I don't know how the other people feel, but I think it will help in some circuits. Maybe in Malaysia it will work better."

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