Mark Webber has revealed that he expects the Red Bull Racing team to remain competitive against Brawn GP regardless of what the conditions may be in Hungary this weekend.
Speaking in the build-up to the Budapest round, the Australian insisted that Red Bull's RB5 has improved as an all-round package, and not simply benefited from the last two races - in which he divided the victories with RBR team-mate Sebastian Vettel - being cooler than expected. Brawn's early-season advantage, which saw Button claim six wins in seven races, was partly attributed to the BGP001's better ability to warm its tyres, leaving Button and Rubens Barrichello to struggle at both Silverstone and the Nurburgring as they found little available grip.
"Jenson, for sure, had a very strong race in Turkey, [which] was the last time we raced in slightly warmed conditions," Webber admitted, "Silverstone and the Nürburgring were a bit cooler and we capitalised with the two 1-2s. We know we have added some performance to the car - we don't know what Brawn have done to their car, but we know we are going faster. We are doing our best, and they are doing their best. We don't really think that people are going slower - we think our performance in the last couple of races was because we have been going faster."
Webber's assessment of the situation will be put to the test in Hungary, particularly once the track has 'rubbered in' by race day. The heavily-revised RB5 has yet to be challenged in the sort of conditions that its initial iteration struggled in early on, but the Australian remains confident.
"We need to race [the Brawns] this weekend," he insisted, "We've closed in the constructors' championship - not just in the last two races, but races before that, and they were also hot. Although Jenson won, collectively, as a team, we've done well. That's why we're second in the championship and not a million miles away from the [lead], so we're happy to go to every venue, any conditions, and race against Brawn.
"We haven't yet had this package at a very, very hot venue, [and] we don't have the luxury these days of testing in Jerez and getting a feel for different things, so the only time we get to do it is when we go racing. It's pretty hard to know how the balance of power will be come Sunday, but there's no question about it, we expect to be competitive, [although] whether we have the advantage that we've had in the past remains to be seen.
"That's the way we went into Nürburgring. We thought – and they thought – that they would be closer to us in Nürburgring, and maybe some other people did as well, but actually it turned out that Nürburgring was better than Silverstone. We'd have more of an answer if we tested but we don't, [but] we're doing our testing on Sundays now and there's just a bit more at stake."
The other burning question directed repeatedly at the Red Bull camp is whether the team should start favouring one or other of its drivers in the race to catch Button and Brawn, but Webber insists that that, while not bosom buddies, the pressure is not spilling over into his relationship with team-mate Vettel.
"It's so good, it's brilliant! We're like brothers! It's fine," he smiled, "It's the same as every other team-mate I've had, we have professional relationships. It's obviously the most asked question of me from all the German press but, at the end of the day, we turn up, we drive the cars, we go home. We're not ringing each other between races to see what we're up to. He's here to do a job and so am I."