A qualifying miscalculation and a damaged front wing proved costly for Mark Webber who finished a fraction of a second outside the points in the Spanish Grand Prix.
Webber finished 11th at the Catalunya Circuit on Sunday, missing the points by 0.2 of a second, while Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado won his first Formula One and was the fifth different winner in this season’s five races.
The Australian driver is now fifth on the overall standings on 48 points, still in touch with leaders Sebastien Vettel and Fernando Alonso who are both on 61.
Although he had two retirements in 2010 and one last year, it’s the first time Webber has missed the points after completing a race since he finished 17th at the Japanese GP in October 2009.
An early pitstop to replace a damaged front wing pushed him down the order, but it was a bad decision by his Red Bull team in qualifying on Saturday which put him up against it.
He started 11th on the grid after his team kept him in the garage late in the second session, to preserve his tyres, believing he had done enough to progress to the top ten session.
But grip improved for the later drivers and Webber’s time was not quick enough, leaving in mid-pack on the tight circuit.
“If you start at the front, you can drive your own race,” Webber said.
“If you start towards the back, you’ll invariably finish towards the back because you’re stuck in traffic and you take too much out of the tyres.
“When you’re out of position around here, it’s very difficult to overtake.
“I had a difficult first lap and I don’t know when I damaged my front wing. The stop cost me a lot of time because it meant I couldn’t drive my own race.”
The next race is at Monaco, where Webber won in 2010 and knows all too well about the importance of a high grid position on the narrow street circuit.
“It’s going to be absolutely vital to start towards the front in Monaco,” he said.
“Qualifying will be very important. The track is a fantastic challenge; it’s one that’s relished by all the drivers.”
Maldonado produced a flawless race for the Williams team, delivering their first win since Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya won in Brazil eight years ago.
He held off two-time champion Alonso of Ferrari, while Kimi Raikkonen finished third.