Mark Webber column

Sebastian Vettel

The Singapore Grand Prix was a bit of a frustrating race for me.

It was another win for my team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, and another normal race if you like. You can't say he doesn't deserve his success.

I had what I would describe as a solid drive to take third place behind Jenson Button's McLaren.

It would have been nice to make it a one-two for Red Bull but I had another ropey start, which is becoming a bit of a broken record.

I need to work on that aspect of my race because it is much harder to compete if you are on the back foot on the very first lap.

Seb's start was not brilliant either - Jenson was closing on him - but it is a short run to the first corner in Singapore and he held him off. If it had been Malaysia or Barcelona, it might have been different.

At the Belgian Grand Prix, my poor start was not my fault. But on Sunday, there were a few metres where I could have done better.

Schumacher crashes in Singapore

The rules make it pretty challenging for engineers to get the starts right as launch control and other electronic aids that limit wheel-spin are not allowed.

There is a lot of work for the drivers to do as well. I cannot give too much away but there are a number of procedures to go through before we get going.

When the lights go out, we quickly release one clutch paddle on the steering wheel and feed in a second gradually - that's the one the driver uses to modulate the grip of the rear wheels

This year, we have seen the biggest fluctuation in starts for years, which is purely down to the new Pirelli tyres and how they perform off the line.

It is harder to manage the grip away from the start but if you get it right - as Fernando Alonso did in Monza - it makes a big difference.

For all that, my starts have been poor this year.

Lewis Hamilton is confronted by Felipe Massa

During the race, I had another battle with my old mate Fernando. I seem to have spent a lot of time in his company on the track recently.

I had to pass him twice in Singapore. The first time was on lap 10, when he was running out of grip from his tyres. I got him into turn 15 after setting him up in turn 14.

The second time looked more spectacular, into the turn 10 chicane, which is not normally a passing place. I heard a few people saying I caught Fernando napping but, to be fair, he was blocked by the Toro Rosso in front of us.

I didn't know who it was at the time - I have since found out it was Jaime Alguersuari - but the Toro Rossos are traditionally the later cars to give way.

All the front-running guys have been similarly affected. In this case, I benefited and that's why I could pounce in turn 10. Jaime snookered Fernando a little bit and I was able to checkmate him.

It was a rewarding manoevure because I was on similar-age tyres to Fernando, which means, had it not been for Alguersuari, I would probably have had to take a few more laps to get past him, waiting for his tyres to go off.

I then had a go at catching Jenson on the prime tyres in the penultimate stint. I closed the gap between us but he was very quick following the final stops after we had both put the faster super-soft tyres back on. When I realised I was not going to catch him, I just concentrated on getting the car home.

Finishing third means I am out of the championship but the writing has been on the wall for a while for all of the guys chasing Seb.

ON THE MARK

Putting my frustrations aside, Singapore was a good event. It always goes down well.

It is a unique race - a street circuit like Monaco with some similar challenges but in many ways the polar opposite. The Singapore circuit is long, whereas Monaco is pretty short. Singapore is quite repetitive, while every corner is different at Monaco.

It was rewarding for me to leave Singapore with a good result. It hasn't always been a happy hunting ground for me. I love driving an F1 car there but generally prefer circuits that are a bit more open with more flow to the corners.

My best tracks have always been Silverstone, Suzuka, Spa, Nurburgring and Monaco. I am usually a bit less happy with circuits that have corners that close back in on themselves, like Singapore.

All the drivers have a track or two we don't go so well at. For Seb, it is probably the Nurburgring. For Jenson, it is probably Silverstone. China was a bit of a bogey track for Michael Schumacher a while.

OFF THE MARK

I went to Australia straight after the Singapore race. It made sense to base myself there during this Asian leg of the season.

It means I can stay in the same time-zone for the next two races in Japan and Korea, although, because we stay on European time in Singapore, I was a bit jet-lagged on Tuesday after landing in Oz on Monday night.

I take the opportunity when I can to come to Australia and it is nice to stay in my own home, not a hotel. I'm not missing much back at the factory either because the rest of the team do not spend much time there, pretty much leaving straight away after getting there.

My home from home is Noosa on the Sunshine Coast, an hour-and-a-half's drive north of Brisbane.

It's a part of Australia I've enjoyed since 2003, when, in my Jaguar days, my then team-mate Christian Klien and reserve driver Bjorn Wirdheim managed to get a Range Rover stuck on a beach. Trouble is, it was me who had loaned it to them for the day.

UNSPUN

An extra benefit to being in Australia between Singapore and Japan is being able to experience a massive week of sport.

The National Rugby League Grand Final is on Sunday. Rugby league was my sport growing up - I played a bit.

My team, the Canberra Raiders, finished second-last this season but it will be an intriguing game between Manly Sea Eagles, the favourites, and the New Zealand Warriors, who have caused a bit of an upset by getting to the final for the first time.

On Saturday, there is also the AFL Grand Final, which is a massive occasion in the state of Victoria.

Aussie Rules is a good sport, a kind of a cross between Gaelic football, rugby, soccer and American football. It's a sport most Europeans don't understand - I've tried explaining it to a few, including Seb, but they just can't get it. But the guys that play it are courageous and great athletes.

Mark Webber was talking to BBC Sport's Andrew Benson. Read his exclusive column on this website every Thursday.

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