Webber: Clean slate for 2011 title battle

Mark Webber is confident that the 'reset button' has been set for his world championship fight with team-mate Sebastian Vettel next year, thanks to him benefiting from some tough growing pains he went through with Red Bull Racing chiefs in 2010

Webber: Clean slate for 2011 title battle

On the back of a sometimes fraught battle with Vettel during this year, which often put the Australian in direct conflict with team management, Webber reckons that he and the outfit are now much better placed to make the most of their opportunities next season.

In a frank and open interview with BBC Radio 5 Live on Tuesday night, Webber said there were plenty of positives that came out of 2010 - despite those difficult flash points.

"A lot of things happened this year which were new for the team," explained Webber. "Sebastian is now world champion and I need to get in position where I can try and race and beat him as often as I can again. And that comes with Jenson [Button], Lewis [Hamilton], Fernando [Alonso], all the normal suspects who will be there.

"The reset button has been hit. We have some new regulations to get on top of. I was clearly in a position to do something very, very unique and the fairly tale was not there. But there are a lot of positives for me to go into a fresh season fully charged and have a crack. I have a great team of people around me and that is what we will aim to do."

Webber endured some fairly tense moments with Red Bull Racing chiefs in 2010 - including expressing his frustration at the emotional favouritism he felt they had for Vettel, plus venting his fury at the front wing situation that occurred at the British Grand Prix.

Those moments of tension prompted speculation that Webber could leave the team, but the Australian made it clear that such a thought never crossed his mind. Instead, he reckoned it was important he got his frustrations out into the open with the team to put him in better stead for 2011.

"I never thought about actually going somewhere else," he said. "I knew I had to sort things out within my own operation there. As I've said quite a few times, the team and myself, we all learned a lot this year about how to go racing consistently at the front and at that level.

"Ferrari and McLaren have had their tears with two competitive drivers, and I am not talking about Lewis and Fernando a few years ago. Ferrari have been around for 50 years, Red Bull for five minutes, so we learned a lot this year. And I knew as a team we could go through growing pains this year and go forward from it.

"So it never went through my mind that I needed to go somewhere else. And the team? I suppose their reaction at the time was harsh because the team had done such a good job to give us both a good chance to do really, really well - and when something like that happens it is very, very rare, which is why it got the reaction it did."

The situation between Webber and the team was not helped post-season by the Australian revealing that he picked up a fractured shoulder for the final races of the season after suffering a mountain bike accident in the week before the Japanese GP.

He never told the team about the matter, and that left team principal Christian Horner 'disappointed'.

Webber has stuck by his decision to keep silent about the matter, and thinks the shoulder injury story was a storm in a tea-cup.

"I think it was absolutely the right thing to do," he said about his decision to keep quiet. "In a competitive environment it is hard enough as it - and then people would try to understand why it happened, what has he got, what is he going through? People will ask you questions, there were enough questions and interrogations as there was.

"So for me to go quiet on it, I took a stance. I said to everyone, my closest people, mum and dad, [partner] Ann, [trainer] Roger, this is as far as it is going, if it goes any further...

"For the team I was nervous if it was going to affect my performances, but then the team would have picked that up anyway and then I would have told them about it."

He added: "For Christian...sometimes a little bit of information is dangerous. He had a lot of stuff on his plate and to throw it on him at that stage, it is easy to say now it would have been great to let people know, but the best tactic was to not let anyone know.

"It is not like a trust [issue], it is not a breaking down in the trust in any relationship. It is like in a boxing ring - if you had something sore why would you let anyone know you are not on the top game? Which I was anyway?"

Webber has also said he is open-minded about his F1 future beyond this year - although he did say that one team every driver would like to sign for was Ferrari.

Regarding his future, he said: "I will take each year as it comes. I am focusing on the next race. Contract time always comes around and you either want it or you do not. I want to want to do it, to be hungry, motivated and determined to compete.

"Last year went well and I hope I can do the same next year. Let's see what happens in 2012. What is important is finishing on top of your game. I don't want to be beaten by guys I don't think I should be."

shares
comments
Exclusive: Alonso on his first year at Ferrari
Previous article

Exclusive: Alonso on his first year at Ferrari

Next article

Webber calls for Newey knighthood

Webber calls for Newey knighthood
Load comments
Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings Plus

Saudi Arabian Grand Prix Driver Ratings

An ill-tempered Saudi Grand Prix made Formula 1 more soap opera than sporting spectacle at times, but there were some strong performances up and down the field on the world championship's first visit to Jeddah

How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series Plus

How the Jeddah F1 race became a one-sitting Netflix drama series

The inaugural Saudi Arabian Grand Prix was a race packed full of incident as Formula 1 2021's title contenders repeatedly clashed on track. Lewis Hamilton won out over Max Verstappen to level the scores heading into next weekend's Abu Dhabi finale, as Jeddah turned F1 into a drama series

The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance Plus

The impressive attitude that earned Albon his second F1 chance

Dropped by Red Bull last season, Alexander Albon has fought back into a Formula 1 seat with Williams. ALEX KALINAUCKAS explains what Albon has done to earn the place soon to be vacated by the highly rated George Russell

Formula 1
Dec 5, 2021
How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes Plus

How Formula E factors could negate Red Bull's Jeddah practice gap to Mercedes

Mercedes led the way in practice for Formula 1’s first race in Jeddah, where Red Bull was off the pace on both single-lap and long runs. But, if Max Verstappen can reverse the results on Saturday, factors familiar in motorsport’s main electric single-seater category could be decisive in another close battle with Lewis Hamilton

Formula 1
Dec 3, 2021
Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer Plus

Why Norris doesn’t expect Mr Nice Guy praise for much longer

Earning praise from rivals has been a welcome sign that Lando Norris is becoming established among Formula 1's elite. But the McLaren driver is confident that his team's upward curve can put him in the mix to contend for titles in the future, when he's hoping the compliments will be replaced by being deemed an equal adversary

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention Plus

What Ferrari still needs to improve to return to F1 title contention

After a disastrous 2020 in which it slumped to sixth in the F1 constructors' standings, Ferrari has rebounded strongly and is on course to finish third - despite regulations that forced it to carryover much of its forgettable SF1000 machine. Yet while it can be pleased with its improvement, there are still steps it must make if 2022 is to yield a return to winning ways

Formula 1
Dec 2, 2021
How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations Plus

How F1 teams and personnel react in pressurised situations

OPINION: The pressure is firmly on Red Bull and Mercedes as Formula 1 2021 embarks on its final double-header. How the respective teams deal with that will be a crucial factor in deciding the outcome of the drivers' and constructors' championships, as Autosport's technical consultant and ex-McLaren F1 engineer explains

Formula 1
Dec 1, 2021
Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated Plus

Why Ferrari is sure its long-term Leclerc investment will be vindicated

Humble yet blisteringly quick, Charles Leclerc is the driver Ferrari sees as its next
 world champion, and a rightful heir to the greats of Ferrari’s past – even though, by the team’s own admission, he’s not the finished article yet. Here's why it is confident that the 24-year-old can be the man to end a drought stretching back to 2008

Formula 1
Nov 30, 2021