Mark Webber refuses to accept that Red Bull’s dominance of Formula One is over. After McLaren’s standout qualifying for the Australian and Malaysian Grands Prix and Jenson Button’s victory at Albert Park, the British outfit have already stamped themselves as the championship favourites.
Red Bull acknowledges that their development program is several months behind schedule but says the opening two rounds have not provided a form guide for the season.
The veteran Australian is fourth in the standings and has out-qualified dual world champion and teammate Sebastian Vettel but has yet to clinch a podium.
Vettel was second in Australia but, according to former world champion Nikki Lauda, Webber is now the driver best coping with the new Pirelli tyres.
“I’m reasonably satisfied with the way I’ve started the season, even though my Red Bull Racing team have not been as strong as in the last two years,” Webber said in his BBC column.
“(However) the two races so far have not really given us a full form guide.
“Mercedes have come away empty-handed, despite showing some strong pace, and Lotus have also got some speed in their car but not quite delivered the results they’re capable of.
“That can happen when everyone’s a bit raw in the early races of the season.”
Webber remains upbeat about the coming races, predicting better performances over the next month.
“I’ve got a pretty good feeling in the car and we made a definite step forward in performance in Malaysia,” he said.
“That’s good but you’re never satisfied until you’re at the front, and we’ve got two weeks to try to ensure that’s where we are for the next two races in China and Bahrain.”
He said the team made a step forward from the season-opening race in Sepang despite a messy and confusing race which saw Fernando Alonso take advantage of the conditions and win for Ferrari.
“There’s still plenty of positives for us,” Webber said after the Malaysian round, in which he finished fourth and Vettel failed to score after hitting Narain Karthikeyan.
“We would have had a better result but there were some inspired calls in front of us and you have to your hat off to those guys.”