Mark Webber says teammate Brendon Hartley’s first laptime being deleted for a track limits violation helped the duo take pole for the WEC 6 Hours of Shanghai.
The #1 Porsche duo beat the #5 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima by just 0.060s at the end of a tight qualifying session at the Chinese venue, which was made more difficult for Webber and Hartley after the latter had his first laptime deleted for running wide at the last corner.
That forced Hartley to take back the wheel from Webber once the ex-F1 driver recorded his lap, although most of the LMP1 field opted for a similar strategy to improve their averages.
Speaking afterwards, Webber was adamant that Hartley gained no advantage by running off-track, but said that the deleted time in fact helped them in the end by forcing the Kiwi to go out again.
Webber told Motorsport.com: “With our car, we don’t gain time [by leaving the track]. It’s a mistake.
“He lost time, he touched the kerb on the inside which pushed him to the outside. It was not something he wanted to do.
“In the end, they helped us, because we had to go again – [exceeding] track limits was slower.”
Speaking of his deleted time, Hartley told Motorsport.com: “It ran the pressure up. Mark did an awesome first attempt, which put us right in contention.
“So did my first lap, but it got deleted. I must have been a centimetre out at the last corner. It was actually a mistake.
“But rules are rules, we got another run, which in hindsight we would have had to do because in the end we took pole by 0.060s. We needed the last run to take pole.”
Webber was also clear that the priority for the #1 crew in Shanghai will be to assist the points-leading #2 car, which qualified sixth with Neel Jani and Marc Lieb, seal the championship.
"In the end, pole is good because we took away one point from the other teams," he said. "We'll try to help the sister car for the drivers’ championship.
"We have to do our own race until the last hour."
Additional reporting by Frankie Mao