Victories set to secure Webber's future
|By Jonathan Noble||Monday, May 17th 2010, 08:03 GMT|
Mark Webber's stunning back-to-back victories in Spain and Monaco appear to have secured his future at Red Bull Racing, with team chiefs saying they have no doubt that they should keep him on board for next season.
On a weekend when Webber moved to the top of the world championship standings, Red Bull bosses opened talks with the Australian's management about extending his deal - which finishes at the end of this season.
With the form of the RB6 making a seat at the team one of the main targets for any leading driver, team principal Christian Horner has dropped the firmest hint yet that Webber will remain alongside Sebastian Vettel next season.
"I am very happy with the balance and dynamics in team, and there is nothing that we would change for," Horner told AUTOSPORT.
Although Webber himself said at the Monaco Grand Prix that he was in no rush to sort out his future - with his current form making him a target for rival outfits, Horner said he did not expect a lengthy negotiation spell when it comes down to finalising terms.
Should Webber get his new deal, then it will almost certainly mean the end of Kimi Raikkonen's F1 career - with the Finn's only real option for a return being Red Bull.
"We are very happy with the way that Mark is performing," said Horner. "He is an important member of our team and he has got to a stage where, at 33 years of age, we said let's take one year at a time – rather than signing some long-winded agreement.
"It is all down to relationships and how he feels at the end of the day. He is driving fantastically well, he is a very valued member of the team, so when the time comes to sit down and talk about contracts I am sure it will be a very short conversation."
Although it is understood that no contract has been signed, Horner said he expected the matter to be sorted out in the next few weeks.
"Over the last couple of years it has been around the end of May and beginning of June that we begin to talk about things, but with Mark, like all things, it is pretty straight forward," he said.
Webber's second victory in as many weekends moved him and Red Bull to the top of the championship standings, but Horner says the team still needs to keep driving itself to improve.
"Our focus won't change," he said. "We will keep pushing. It is very dangerous in this business to underestimate your rivals.
"McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes are great teams and have great pedigrees and histories, and it would be foolish to underestimate their rate of development and progress.
"We are a small team in comparison, so we need to keep focusing on what we are doing, keep our heads down and try and deliver the kind of performances we have delivered over the last couple of weekends – and the championships will take care of themselves."