Webber keeping the faith in Williams
|By Jonathan Noble||Tuesday, June 13th 2006, 09:22 GMT|
Mark Webber insists that he is not losing faith in Williams, despite a disappointing weekend at Silverstone and increased speculation about a possible move to Renault next year.
The Australian failed to make it through the first session of qualifying at the British Grand Prix as the FW28 struggled for speed, just two weeks after his hopes of a podium finish in Monaco were wrecked by an exhaust failure. He retired on the first lap of the race after a collision with Ralf Schumacher.
It is the team's inconsistent pace, allied to the reliability problems that have cost Webber several podiums, that has led to speculation the Australian may be looking elsewhere next year.
Renault are still pinning their hopes on luring a driver in the calibre of Kimi Raikkonen or Michael Schumacher as a replacement for Fernando Alonso, but Webber is being touted as another target.
The Australian has insisted that he still sees potential at his current team - and autosport.com understands that a future decision is not necessarily his because the option on his future contract is held on Williams' side.
"You always think that it's greener on the other side," he said when asked whether he still wanted to remain at Williams next year. "But everyone goes through their pain. This weekend has been bad for us - we might be in better shape in Montreal.
"Next year there is potential for Williams to do strongly - but we're only on 10 points. We really need to start in Canada. It's going to be a tough season, but I feel for all the guys. We've had a lot of things we've had to get over. But we've still got to get everything together."
Webber's links with Renault come through his management deal with Briatore, but senior figures at the Anglo-French team privately believe that he deserves a chance on his talent alone. He was their test driver in 2001.
One high-level Renault figure told autosport.com: "There is a suspicion that Mark could be a Division One driver - up there with Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher. He has not proven it yet, but there is a chance. We would love to work with him again."
Webber himself has said that he enjoyed his working relationship with Briatore and engineering director Pat Symonds, both of whom have praised his efforts over recent weeks.
"First of all, I've got massive respect for Pat Symonds, when I was testing there he was very good. Flavio as well - he's a real pro as well.
"For both those guys to say things, it's nice for me to hear. I do my best every weekend and I feel that I've driven very well. A shit day in F1 isn't the end of your career. I pretty much nailed everything I wanted to do this year."