Thursday, September 29, 2011

Mark Webber bullish on title hope

Mark Webber

FORGET retirement. Australian formula 1 driver Mark Webber has declared his willingness to continue on world motor sport's biggest stage beyond 2011. And he says he's getting closer to winning that elusive F1 championship, which only narrowly escaped him in 2010.
Less than a year after rival Lewis Hamilton suggested the 34-year-old Queanbeyan product would call it a day in 2012, a sharp, enthusiastic and jovial Webber revealed to The Sun-Herald yesterday he was already considering extending his career beyond this year - and the chequered flag hasn't even dropped on race one yet.
''If I can be hungry and have the desire, still want to compete, and turn up and take these guys on week in, week out - yeah,'' Webber said.
''There's no backing off from these guys. I'm not getting any younger. But there are a hell of a lot of guys who have won races in their mid-30s. It just so happens that 'Seb' was a young world champion.
''So if I've got all that in there and I want to do it, and the results are there, then I need to work out how long that can be sustained for. And that's the tricky question.''
It's obvious, however, that Webber's trademark competitive spirit is still running thickly through his blood. ''I'm getting goosebumps right now, mate, just thinking about racing,'' said Webber, one of Australia's great sporting exports. ''When that monitor comes down on the dash and I've got my time up there and I've just been caned or I've been caning them … that's a great emotional ride.
''I also think, and it did happen a little bit a long time ago in the middle part of my F1 career, when you get beat and you're not really that worried, that's not a good sign. That's a bad sign, when you're not prepared to put that little bit extra in.
''But when you have the chance I've had the past couple of years … if you had the [other] mentality you'd be eaten alive. It's all over. [Fernando] Alonso and these boys will destroy you every weekend.
''I could perform at a good level until I'm 40. I could. But it remains unknown if I'll do that.''
First things first, Webber will have to overcome a gruelling first three rounds, starting in Melbourne next Sunday, if he is to challenge for the title this season and extend his F1 career beyond a decade.
''Of course I want to win it [Melbourne],'' he said. ''We're digging the foundations out here for the rest of the season. So [Melbourne's] very important now. It's very important. It's not make or break as I proved last year, because I came right back into it after four rounds with a rough start to the season. It's a marathon. No one had a big lead. Vettel led the championship for one race, the last one. But that's the way the cookie crumbles. Get over it.''
And from the looks and sounds of it, Webber is over it and heavily focused on claiming his first win in front of his home fans - hundreds of whom turned out to welcome the star at Docklands yesterday.
Webber acknowledged that for most drivers their new cars were still unknown quantities. ''It's hard to get across to different sports the difference [with] new tyres and wings … but I'm feeling OK with [the change] and the proof will be in the pudding.''

vettel and webber

Racing cars

Mark Webber

Mark Webber Red Bull Car Team

Mark Webber racing car

Mark Webber

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