Mark Webber has claimed that he is far from being over-awed by the expectations of the Australian Grand Prix crowd, after qualifying on the front row of the grid for his home event.
The Red Bull Racing ace, clearly frustrated at missing out on pole position in a battle with team-mate Sebastian Vettel, insisted that he would still be chasing victory on the streets around Melbourne's Albert Park, but would not feel under any undue pressure to perform specifically for the audience.
"I know tomorrow's 'papers will be wrapping fish and chips on Monday," he insisted, "They're very fickle and most people down here obviously think that this is the only race of the season. I have a much, much bigger thing in mind, obviously - a good result tomorrow."
No Australian has ever won his home round of the F1 world championship, with Webber himself yet to better fifth place - a result he achieved on debut with Minardi in 2002 and repeated with Williams three years later - in a race that has appeared to have a curse over him. However, having won in both Germany and Brazil last season, victory in Australia would be sweet, but carried not extra burden of pressure.
"Of course, I'm keen to do well here, but every grand prix is a very respectful thing to take part in," the 33-year old noted, "I've a very good team behind me and, whether I'm in Australia, Budapest, Japan, we give our best. Every time we get in the car, we have to deliver and, today, I didn't feel any pressure at all. I felt like I drove well and I enjoyed it. When the helmet is on, it's over to me to do the job."
Despite missing out on pole by eight-hundredths of a second, Webber claimed that he had got as much as he could from a car that had been tweaked between Friday and Saturday.
"We changed a bit overnight, as much as we could, and we got pretty much the optimum out of the car today," he stressed, "It went very well, and it is evident that Sebastian and I are trying to find time that is probably not there - we can see that with his last sector and my middle sector. All of a sudden, you start to look for a lap time which is much more risky to get and it's easier to make mistakes. I wasn't particularly keen on repeating my Bahrain performance, and this was a good lap, just a bee's dick off pole. But at least I am on the front row and have a good chance to start the race in a good position.
"I have had tougher days in my life, so I will sleep well tonight. It is competitive instinct that you come here looking to get the maximum and you always want to do a little bit better than what you did. In the end, we both showed today that probably that was where the car was as we repeated the lap times a few times. I will be happy in the morning when I wake up."
Although he is starting with just his team-mate ahead of him, however, Webber is taking nothing for granted in a race where the unexpected has been known to happen.