Mark Webber has declared he won’t be playing support act to teammate and record-breaking Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel when the season rolls around again next year.
Vettel has already joined the sport’s greats in becoming the youngest driver to win three straight titles, but Red Bull’s Australian veteran Webber says the mentality to go out and win won’t change.
“Obviously with Sebastian’s form, he’s clearly on the front foot,” Webber told reporters near Ben Lomond in northern Tasmania, where his Mark Webber Challenge charity wilderness race was underway.
“Not only from within our team, but he’s won three world titles on the bounce now so all the drivers have got to try and topple him.
“(But) I don’t go there thinking I’ve got to be playing a team role as such.
“I’m there for myself to get the best results possible and to do that I need to be part of the team.
“So, no, I’m not going there thinking of (myself) in a supporting role at all.”
Webber’s 2012 season was highlighted by prestigious victories at Monaco and the British Grand Prix but he fell away to finish sixth overall, his worst end-of-season result in four years.
He said a combination of his car’s reliability, penalties and his own poor driving at Monza and Singapore cost him dearly.
“Ultimately we just weren’t consistent enough compared to 2010 and 2011,” he said.
“Our qualifying pace this year was a very, very good step forward but (not) our Sunday performances.
“It wasn’t strong enough towards the end but they’re fine margins and before you know it, the odd non-finish here and there, and the points are not in your favour.”
Webber said his KERS (energy under braking) problems, poor starts and differentials would be the focus when he begins winter testing in a new car in January.
Nearing the end of his career at 36, Webber said his hunger was undiminished as he chased an elusive driver’s title.
“From when I got into Formula One you don’t survive if you’re not performing and you don’t survive generally if you’re not doing your best,” he said.
“It’s been a long career. I’ve had some very, very tough times but some very, very special moments for myself.
“That will be the same again next year.
“I want to build on my memories from the sport and I have a sensational opportunity to do that and who knows, if you get enough momentum some really special things can happen.”
A jet-lagged Webber will take part in several legs of his Challenge, which takes place around Tasmania until Sunday.