A 'bitterly disappointed' but resilient Mark Webber has vowed to go away over the winter and come back refreshed, better than ever and ready to fight again in F1 2011 after missing out on the drivers' laurels in a nail-biting Abu Dhabi Grand Prix finale on Sunday – vowing that 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger'.
Webber was the Red Bull Racing driver tipped by most as the best-placed to overhaul Ferrari's Fernando Alonso around the Yas Marina Street Circuit, but as events transpired – with the Australian enduring an off-colour weekend and the Spaniard finding his efforts frustrated by a badly-managed strategy and traffic – it was team-mate Sebastian Vettel who prevailed both in Abu Dhabi and also, consequently, in the chase for the coveted crown.
Although inarguably the finest campaign of his nine-year career in the top flight – with four sublime triumphs in Spain, Monaco, Britain and Hungary along the way – 2010 has not been the easiest of rides for Webber, with the 34-year-old enduring a rocky relationship with Vettel and publicly lamenting a lack of support from his team on occasion, at one stage arguing that it was 'obvious' which driver the energy drinks-backed outfit would rather claim the title.
That sense of marginalisation within his own team certainly did not aid his bid for glory, and nor did costly accidents in Valencia and Korea that both left him empty-handed, as the New South Wales native emerged victorious just once in the last eight outings.
However, despite conceding that 'this was perhaps not my last chance to be world champion, but surely it was my best', Webber has sought to quell all speculation surrounding his future at RBR and graciously congratulate Vettel – whilst insisting that although he may be temporarily down, he is far from out.
“I've got to take my hat off to Sebastian because he's done a good job this year,” the man from Queanbeyan wrote on his personal website. “We've had our-ups-and downs, but we've pushed each other and it's always rewarding to get out of bed to do that. It's amazing to think that the only time he led the championship was after the last race, but that's the only time it matters. Well done to him.
“You can't blame my loss on one race weekend – you have to look at the season as a whole. You can point to the odd qualifying session here and there, when I missed out to Sebastian by a few thousandths of a second, you can look at the races where I pushed him over the line...and those small differences add up over 19 races.
“There are still lots of positives to take out of the 2010 season. Red Bull Racing have won two world championships, which is a phenomenal effort by everyone at the factory in Milton Keynes. I've taken five pole positions and four victories, and I'm even proud of some of my second places because they were well-executed race weekends. I'll probably look back in due course and think this season wasn't a bad effort.
“I'm still bitterly disappointed by what happened on Sunday evening; I aimed for the biggest target in motorsport and it didn't work out, but I'm reminded of that great adage – what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Well, I'm still alive and I'm sure I'll bounce back from this season a better driver.