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Webber to chase Vettel in 2012

2011-12-06 11:12

TOUGH SEASON: Mark Webber, despite ranking third in the 2011 driver standings, has had a tough season after being eclipsed by team mate Sebastian Vettel.

Ian Ransome

MELBOURNE, Australia - Red Bull's Mark Webber is "putting his feet up" after an arduous season though he has already turned his focus to the 2012 season-opener in Melbourne.

Webber, whose thrilling and occasionally acrimonious tussle with Sebastian Vettel was a highlight of the 2010 championship, was eclipsed by his Red Bull team mate in 2011 as the German successfully defended his title with four races to spare.

Despite a creditable season, finishing third in the driver standings, Webber managed just one win, taking the chequered flag at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix after his team mate's car suffered a reliability problem. The win was, nonetheless, "just the tonic" Webber needed.


Webebr said: "I think that (the victory) was brewing off the back of a few events where, on the surface it might not have looked that I might have been challenging, but there were certain things coming that I was getting more confident about," the 35-year-old said in a telephone interview from Australia's island state of Tasmania.

"Yes, Vettel had to manage an issue but irrespective of that, you still need to pounce and capitalise on other people's misfortunes. That's motor sport at the end of the day. It's good to have our feet up a little bit, it's a long, long season as we all know. But to be honest I probably wouldn't have it any other way," he said.

"I still absolutely love my racing and I'm really looking forward to, it's 100 days apparently before we get back to Melbourne, so looking forward to getting back in the car and racing."

Webber was speaking as he prepared for his annual Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge, a five-day cross-country event which starts and helps raise funds for disadvantaged youth and endangered local wildlife.


Webber's idea of having his "feet up" has included a 6.5km fun run through a hill course around the picture-postcard port of Hobart, then having a photo-shoot while abseiling on a sheer rock face at a national park.

Elite and rookie athletes will compete in teams of two in kayaking, mountain biking and trekking as part of the challenge, but it is not clear whether Webber will participate in the mountain-bike part after two serious accidents.

The first crash at the end of 2008 broke his leg and shoulder, hampering the start of his next F1 season, while the second in 2010 left him driving with a fractured shoulder for the last four races of the season as his title hopes gradually slipped away.

Despite the mishaps, Webber said he was thrilled to see others push themselves and survive to tell the tale.

Webber said: "It's a very important thing for people to go through in life, to have respect for something you're about to do and get the most out of it and lift the bar for themselves a little bit.


"Obviously there's some adrenalin involved and that's what people get out of bed for to enjoy that sort of stuff and do things they haven't done before," he said.

"I'm obviously the same, not just when I'm driving the car, I like to take some risks but (also) making the right decisions for myself knowing that my proper career is racing cars!"

A question about 2012 likely being his last chance for a world title extracted the most reluctant of agreements.

"The next most important race is Melbourne and next year will be different to this year, because that's just the way I'm sure things will go," he said.

"I'm very, very optimistic and positive that I'll have a very, very strong season and that's what I'm going to look forward to. I'm still driving very, very well. It's an extremely fine line before you start to unlock a few other things that can make your season go from good, which was this year, to great, and that's what I need to be able to try and do," said Webber.

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