He might have reclaimed the advantage in the F1 2010 World Championship and have the fastest car in the field at his disposal, but with seven grands prix remaining before season's end, Red Bull Racing star Mark Webber is adamant that he is taking absolutely nothing for granted and that he will simply approach each race one at a time.
After looking down-and-out when the safety car appeared on lap 14 of last weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix – due to running behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel at the time and therefore facing a hefty loss of positions for having to complete an extra lap whilst the majority of his rivals pitted – Webber brilliantly and bravely turned the situation around to his advantage to make his 'Option' rubber last all the way to lap 43, by which point he had established a sufficient cushion over second-placed Fernando Alonso that he was in no danger of losing his lead.
“There was an element of risk because we hadn't done anything like a 42-lap stint on the 'Option' tyre during practice,” the Australian confessed, revealing that he had to drive 'every lap like it was a qualifying lap'. “I had to drive what was effectively a three-part race, because I didn't pit for tyres when the safety car came out early on, but the strategy paid off and I won the race pretty easily in the end.”
Not only that, but Webber was able to briefly savour the moment when he put a lap on record-breaking multiple F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher – “I'm sure Michael wasn't having one of his strongest days, but he did a lot of that to me back in his day and it was nice to be able to do it [back to him]...with someone of his calibre, it doesn't often happen,” the New South Wales native quipped – but he has put any thoughts of following in the illustrious German's wheel tracks by clinching title glory for himself this year firmly out of his mind.
The last time the 33-year-old headed the points standings was prior to the Canadian Grand Prix in mid-June, but his fourth victory of the campaign in Budapest – making him once more the 'winningest' driver of the season to-date – saw him vault back ahead of Lewis Hamilton, meaning he enters the mid-summer break a scant four markers clear of his McLaren-Mercedes adversary. As he keeps his feet firmly on the ground, however, the man from Queanbeyan urges that he is far from complacent about his position – and well aware that anything can still happen.
“We are way too far out for that,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald
. “We've got a lot of people that can win races at this level, and we have already seen that. The most important thing for me is the next race. That's a bit boring, it's an old cliché, but that's what it is. It's unrealistic to think I'm going to win the next seven.”
Webber added that his reportedly strained relationship with Vettel – one whose difficulties in the wake of their costly Istanbul clash and Silverstone front wing fall-out have been well-documented – is 'not too bad', but cautioned: “Team-mate is a word which is used, but it's not exactly what it means... It's often the case your team-mate is a pretty big rival of yours, and that's how it's always been from the 1950s through to now.”