Mark Webber has admitted that, in his opinion, Jenson Button's impeccable form in 2009 should keep the Briton as favourite to land this year's Formula One world title despite the improved form of Red Bull Racing in recent races.
Webber chased team-mate Sebastian Vettel to the line at Silverstone three weekends ago as Red Bull took its second 1-2 result of the season to eat into both Button's and Brawn GP's respective points advantages, but the Australian admits that his British rival looks unlikely to drop the baton over the second half of the season.
"The battle for the drivers' championship is much tougher for us because, the way he's been driving, I don't see Jenson losing the fight himself," Webber conceded in his regular BBC
column, "He has been so impressively consistent in all sessions and all races and just doesn't make mistakes.
"He has a 23-point lead in the championship and that kind of lead means he can afford not to win points in a few races and still stay ahead. If he loses the world title now, it will be down to a problem from the team, not him."
Although no-one at Red Bull Racing is assuming that its Silverstone performance will carry over to this weekend's German Grand Prix and beyond, Webber insists that overhauling Brawn's points advantage remains more attainable that catching its lead driver.
"Brawn are still catchable in the constructors' standings," he claimed, "There is no doubt they are on the front foot with a 30-point lead, but it is do-able. The reality is that these are unchartered waters for Red Bull, but there is still a lot to play for and I'm not giving up on anything. I'm ready for another close contest at the German Grand Prix this weekend. We're not expecting our car to be weak at any circuit now and it's a very exciting time for Red Bull."
With Vettel being the only driver other than Button to have won a race this season, there has been much speculation that RBR may decide to back the German over Webber - something the Australian continues to refute given how closely-matched they remain in the standings.
"There was a lot of talk after Silverstone that I had to beat Sebastian in Germany to retain the balance in the team, but that's not the case," he emphasised, "It is too early to start backing one driver, and the team are being brilliant with that. It's only natural that there is a bit of momentum with Sebastian within Red Bull because he took the chequered flag in China and Britain, [and] you can't escape the fact that it would be different if I had won a race but, if I can qualify a bit higher and keep up the consistency, then I'm confident there will be a win just around the corner.
"I'm staying relaxed but I'm not just going to settle for staying close to him. I want to play my role in the team as we aim to close down Jenson and Brawn's lead in the championships and when Sebastian has made mistakes I've been there to take points for the team. Sebastian is only 3.5 points ahead of me in the drivers' championship which means, mathematically, I still have a chance to do very well."