Webber: 'I'm staying in a family'
STAYING PUT: Red Bull driver Mark Webber has signed to extend his racing contract with the team alongside Sebastian Vettel. "It's a family thing," he says.
LONDON, England - Mark Webber has ended speculation about a move to Ferrari by signing an extension to his Red Bull contract that will ieep him alongside Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel for a fifth season.
Red Bull's announcement means the 35-year-old, second in the championship standings behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso so far in the 2012 season, can look forward to a seventh year with the Bbritish team team.
"There were discussions with Ferrari but my decision was to stay here," he said in a Q+A issued by Red Bull in which he did not rule out staying in F1 beyond 2013.
The Australian had been touted as a replacement for Felipe Massa at Ferrari with the Brazilian out of contract at the end of 2012 and still chasing his first podium step since 2010.
Webber, who won Sunday's 2012 British GP at Silverstone, said his decision to stay was easy: "The team feels like family".
He has raced for British-based F1 teams since 2003, lives within an easy drive of the Silverstone track, enjoys walking his dogs in the countryside and owns a village pub. He has also taken all of his nine race wins, 10 poles and all but one of his 31 podium placings with Red Bull though he's also driven for Minardi, Jaguar and Williams.
"It's an amazing bunch of guys and girls at Red Bull Racing and I really, really like working with them," he said. "That has a huge effect on me and how I perform in the car and helped me with my decision.
"We've gone through plenty together here. We went from the days when Red Bull had not long owned the team to what it is now. It's just one nice big family now in many ways and we've grown so much. We've come a long way and I think it's clear that I fit well here and that's what I really like about it."
'BIT OF A SURPRISE'
His relationship with team mate Vettel, 25, was also a factor even if their pairing has not always been easy. The German already has a contract for 2013.
"Nobody would really have envisaged how long we 'd work together, so that's probably been a bit of a surprise," Webber saaid. "Not many are team mates for that long in F1 but it's proved a successful partnership with both of us working very hard with the key technical members of the team. It's been a potent operation."
Webber had a disappointing 2011 when Vettel romped to his second title but he's back on form and 16 points clear of the German with nine of the 20 races run. He and Fernando Alonso are the only two drivers to have won two races in 2012 and he said he was "high on confidence" and "firing on all cylinders".
Having his new contract done and dusted, he sasid, was a big plus; he could now focus on the championship battle.
And beyond 2013? He's been asked the same question for the past four years and gave the same answer: "It's a results-based sport at the front of the grid so the future lies in my own hands. It's down to me to deliver the on-track results."