Mark Webber lost the world championship lead in Korea when he crashed out, leaving him 11 points behind Fernando Alonso going into the final two rounds.
Ahead of this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix, Webber met the press to talk about his title chances and the situation with his Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel. AUTOSPORT was there to hear him.
Q. You've led the championship for ages and ages. How does it change for you going into the final two races behind?
Mark Webber: It's probably not a huge difference really. When you've got five, eight, 11 or 14 points lead... I think it's different when it gets above 20, then you might be able to change the mindset a bit but it's been pretty close. I've led a few races in terms of the championship. There's only one point you can go from leading, and that's back down again. Now I'm second and I need to try and get back to the top with two races to go.
That involves driving how I did to get to the lead of the championship. That means top results and obviously ideally that means beating Fernando as well, he's the guy that's ahead and he's obviously in the best position out of all of us.
Q. Do you take any comfort from the fact that Alonso's close to being 'public enemy number one' over here?
MW: It doesn't change anything on the track. What can they do to slow him down?
Q. Do you think Fernando will be the man to beat again in Brazil, given that you won last year?
MW: I'm not saying he's going to be the man to beat, but we're not going to win the championship by finishing behind him. We need to get top results and that means being ahead of him. If he has a bit of attrition that's a bonus, but if he doesn't, we need to beat him. If we get a few points off him here, that's nice. If we get more, even better.
Q. Have there been any discussions with Sebastian Vettel about his part in this weekend?
MW: It's a normal race.
Q. But it's not really, is it?
MW: It's a normal race.
Q. Are you in a position where you on Sunday you can alter the team strategy as you go along, not in terms of team orders, but where one of you might think in terms of the other?
MW: It could be a possibility, but I think you can think about the connotations and how things are going to roll out but until we see how things turn out... You could have Adrian Sutil in the middle, you could have mixed weather. It's very hard to talk about what might happen on Thursday.
Q. Do you think Vettel should be told to support you?
MW: If it hasn't happened by now, it's never going to happen.
Q. But the situation was different before...
MW: Nothing has changed between Seb and I for the last five or six races. The only difference now is that there's a different guy leading the championship.
Q. What did you make of Gerhard Berger's remarks after Korea?
MW: I know Gerhard's had some pretty nasty accidents in his time and so have I - Le Mans, Valencia... I'd never put myself or anyone else in any more danger than I need to. I've lost control of the car and [Berger's saying] all of a sudden I've regained control of the car and try and take people out... I'm a genius, aren't I?
Q. Were you surprised that those comments came on a channel owned by Red Bull?
Q. It's not very helpful is it?
MW: I've got a thick skin.
Q. Have you needed a thick skin this year?
MW: When you're up for world championship, they don't hand them out like Commonwealth Games medals... It's tough thing to get and I realise you're going to have a few headwinds here and there. That's part of it.
Q. Have you spoken to Gerhard?
MW: He doesn't know me that well, so...
Q. Is there a danger that Red Bull might not win any of the titles if you and Vettel don't work together? What's the feeling about that in the team?
MW: You'd have to ask [the team]. I'm a driver, and I think that of course you increase your risk of that happening if you race each other and potentially take each other out, or race as hard as you want all the way to the end then you might not get certain championships. But it's certainly not my decision and what I think is really all that important to how we will probably go about it. You'd need to ask the people who run the team.
Q. If the points situation was reversed, would you help Vettel?
MW: It's a tough question and a tough situation to know how you would do things. There's a lot of really good people at this team and there's no getting away from the fact that we would love to win some championships this year. We're at different parts of our career as well, so it's not as easy as some might imagine. I'd need to think a lot further about that.
For different reasons here and there, obviously Seb's never led the championship this year and I have, so whatever happens in all the races we've had, we've now got two races to go and that's what the scoreboard says. Whatever the best way we go about handling trying to win the championship, we'll see on the Monday after Abu Dhabi if it was the right way.
Q. If Red Bull don't win a title after taking 14 out of 17 pole positions, how will that feel?
MW: People keep getting a hard-on about pole positions but they don't hand points out on Saturdays, they hand out points on Sundays and Sundays are when you need to deliver. If you had asked me at the start of the year, I have a chance of winning the championship, I've won four races, I've had nine podiums, it's been a sensational year for me. I can still put the icing on the cake and I'd love to be able to do that. If we don't, then the sun still comes up on Monday morning.
Q. You still seem to feel that the team isn't fully behind you...
MW: Technically everything's been very, very good.
Q. But on the personal side?
MW: It's obvious isn't it.
Q. But why do you think that?
MW: Of course when young, new chargers come onto the block, that's where the emotion is. That's the way it is. Which is absolutely fine, because I've had a great opportunity and a great car to go and do some great things this year, and I have done that. That's what I've just explained. I've got favourites in life. I've got people I like to be with. That's how it is. It's human nature.
Q. You've got a lot of support from pundits, is that gratifying?
MW: Probably, yeah. I think it's been a great year for Formula 1, a lot of people have locked onto it for various reasons. I don't know what it's been like in other countries but the BBC have done a pretty good job in the UK and people have really followed it well and it's been fascinating. I think I wasn't supposed to be in the hunt at all, so it's been maybe quite inconvenient, but I've enjoyed every minute of it.
Q. If you miss out, do you think you will have lost fair and square?
Q. You'll have no problem with it?
MW: Fernando won Hockenheim and was the fastest driver on the day.
Q. But he wasn't...
MW: Absolutely he was. He passed Felipe and pulled away from him, otherwise he probably would've crashed into him. If Felipe was 10 seconds down the road, they would never have done that.
Q. Christian Horner has come out and said this week that it wouldn't be right if Alonso won the title because Red Bull was playing fair...
MW: It won't be the first championship that's been won - if he does do it - by team orders, and it won't be the last.
Q. Is there any reason to think that Red Bull won't be the strongest car this weekend?
MW: No, we should be good here and we should be up the front again for sure. There's no reason to suggest we won't be, so that's a great opportunity for us to get a result.
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