F1 2010 World Championship leader Mark Webber has insisted that he is 'at ease' with himself and 'amazed at how relaxed I am' on the eve of a race that has been tipped to offer a genuine insight into the likely destiny of this year's drivers' crown – adding that whatever happens come season's end, he wants to have 'no real regrets'.
Webber has arrived in the Far-Eastern city-state of Singapore for the third edition of the popular night race around the streets of Marina Bay with a slender five-point margin atop the standings over McLaren-Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton, and with double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso, Hamilton's team-mate and defending title-winner Jenson Button and his own Red Bull Racing team-mate – and bitter sparring partner – Sebastian Vettel all similarly well within striking-distance.
With a mere 24 points blanketing the crown-chasing quintet and 125 left up for grabs over the final five grands prix, it really is anybody's game – and whilst he might not have the prior experience of a title showdown unlike Hamilton, Alonso and Button, what Webber does have is a calm, cool, measured approach that could just pay dividends by the time the F1 circus reaches Abu Dhabi in mid-November.
The Australian acknowledges that he is not immune to the pressure of being the hunted – just as his pursuers are not immune to the pressure of having to try and chase him down and overhaul him – but he is confident of being able to manage that pressure, despite finding himself in an advantageous position for the first time during his nine-year career at the highest level, a situation that he acknowledges is 'uncharted territory' for both himself and Red Bull [see separate story – click here
Adamant that his focus is fully on his own challenge and not on what any of his adversaries are doing, the New South Wales native concedes that at 34 years of age now and by his own admission in the twilight of his F1 career, he may never get another opportunity to lift the sport's ultimate prize – or certainly not as good as the one he has right now. And that is why – as he endeavours to emerge on top in the most thrilling, unpredictable, intense and wide open title fight in years – he is determined not to waste his chance.
“I have to put my best foot forward and give it everything I've got and have no real regrets,” the man from Queanbeyan told BBC Sport
. “I would like to be 24 and have this opportunity again, but I'm not. It's a great opportunity for us and that is what we are aware of. It is very important to us, but let's not get ahead of ourselves – it's not here yet.
“It's exciting and I'm amazed at how relaxed I am. You need to be very, very careful – if you get too wound up, thinking 'oh I need to do this race, or do this one like that', you can just forget it. There have been some good highs, but you have to keep it level because you know there might be a low round the corner.
“I'm very much at ease with what I'm about to go and do. I know what I have to do – and if I can win as many races as I can in the close of the season, I'm sure that makes it much, much harder for the other guys to close the gap. Non-finishes kill us – we know that – but I will keep chipping away.
“There's a few [drivers] still in it at the moment, and it might change a little bit. Three [contenders] is really no different to five or six – you just have to go there and do the same sort of job. There's no point getting panicked and stressed about things that aren't really there. You just have to do your best driving and work hard with the team.
“At the moment I think the fans have a sensational championship to watch. A new young team that has never won a championship (Red Bull), a couple of world champions in Lewis and Jenson and a double world champion with Fernando, some good quality teams – what could be better? We're all pushing each other very, very hard. There is a bit of smoke and mirrors in the press, but that's just part of the fun I suppose – and the talking generally will be done on the track.”