Mark Webber has rubbished outspoken comments made by triple world champion Niki Lauda that Red Bull Racing 'can forget' the F1 2010 World Championship crown already following a run of poor reliability in the opening two grands prix of the campaign in Bahrain and Australia – insisting there remains 'a long way to go'.
Lauda's controversial remarks [see separate story – click here
] came in the wake of a spark plug failure for Sebastian Vettel in the Sakhir curtain-raiser and a suspected wheel-fixing issue for the German a fortnight later Down Under in Melbourne, costing the sport's youngest-ever grand prix-winner a likely brace of dominant light-to-flag victories, as many as 38 points and the lead in the drivers' standings.
As it is, the man from Heppenheim arrived in Sepang for this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix sitting just seventh in the standings, 25 points shy of Fernando Alonso at the top of the table. Red Bull palpably has the fastest car in F1 at the moment, just not the most reliable one – but Vettel's team-mate Webber is confident that the energy drinks-backed outfit has the ability to strike back and answer its critics in style.
“There are 750 points left, I think,” the Australian is quoted as having said by ESPN
. “He (Lauda) is capable of giving his own opinion, but the championship is not over this weekend, I don't think – it finishes in November. There's a long way to go.
“There's no reason we shouldn't be competitive; whether it's boring competitive we'll see. We know McLaren have a good top speed with the system they've got – that's why it was hard to race Lewis [Hamilton] in Melbourne – but we are confident that our car is very competitive at all venues.”
The Adrian Newey-designed, Renault-powered RB6 will need to be just as potent in the rain too this weekend, it would appear, with similarly monsoon-like conditions to 2009 expected over the course of the event in Kuala Lumpur – and a repeat of the deluge that fell upon the Sepang International Circuit this time twelve months ago, Webber well acknowledges, would turn proceedings into a lottery.
“We know the rain here is massively unpredictable and it doesn't spit, it pisses [down],” the plain-speaking 33-year-old explained. “We know that, so generally it is very hard to have a car race when it rains here. There have been grands prix here run in the past in those conditions. Last year obviously it was a shame it went dark, so we have a bit more time to suspend the race a bit longer [with the earlier start in 2010].