Mark Webber is increasingly confident of being close to full fitness when the Formula One season kicks off at his home race in Melbourne next month, after resorting to alternative recovery techniques to rehabilitate his broken leg.
The Australian has been sidelined since being knocked from his road bike during the Pure Tasmania adventure race he helps to organise and promote, but continues to make progress with his recovery and insists that he will be back behind the wheel to help Red Bull Racing prepare for the coming year. The team is due to unveil its 2009 challenger early next week, and Webber hopes to join new team-mate Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel in the test sessions the precede the opening round in late March.
“Driving is not like playing tennis," he pointed out to the official RBR website, "A tennis player can practise before actually playing a game, but I need to get in the car and go and do it to find out about things like the vibration jolts."
Aware that karting could help his rehab, Webber got back behind the wheel during a recent visit to the Kitzbuhel downhill ski race, but admitted that the outing had been little more than 'just mucking about', and is instead pinning his hopes of increased fitness on cryogenics.
The latest stage in his recovery process has seen the likeable Aussie standing in sub-zero temperatures for three minutes at a time, braving lows of -130°C in an effort to increase the blood flow to his injured right leg.
“I've been doing it for three weeks now,” he revealed, “You go from a normal, ambient room temperature into a chamber of -50°C for about 30 seconds and then for another three minutes into -130°C. It's very good for your general well-being, your immune system and, apparently, it's good for cellulite - although that's not much of a worry for me…”
Despite the seemingly unconventional - and outwardly sadistic - nature of the treatment, Webber has been impressed with the improvements he has witnessed and insists that he will be race-ready come Melbourne.
“The results over the last few weeks have been incredible," he admitted, "We had a really good week last week, so we're really positive. Dare I say it, we're probably a little bit ahead of schedule.
“There's been some stuff in the press [claiming] that I won't be 100 per cent fit for Melbourne - which p*ssed me off as I've really worked hard to get into this position. I will
be 100 per cent ready to do my job.”