F1 » 10 January 2011
Webber admits respect, not friendship, the key to F1
Mark Webber has admitted that healthy respect for opponents, rather than friendship, is the key to success in F1.
Mark Webber has made no secret of the fact that his relationship with Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel will never be more than a working one, but the Australian insists that it is hard for anyone on the grid to form strong friendships.
The single-minded focus required by an F1 driver means that selfishness and ruthless determination are key composites, and that, in turn, means that there cannot be too much time for others - especially those who form the opposition every couple of weeks. The in-team rivalry with Vettel in 2010 - when both drivers were pushing for the world title - showed that Webber understands the theory better than most, but the Australian admitted that he wasn't too bothered about making friends outside of the Milton Keynes-based team either.
"There is a healthy respect - there has to be in competing against your rivals, otherwise you wouldn't get out there and have a go," Webber told Sydney's Sun-Herald newspaper, "You have to respect your opposition. If you don't, you won't achieve great things because you'll drop your guard, [so] there has to be an element of respect that way.
"It's just not easy to have complete friendships. I think you have closer friends from outside of your profession. You pick up the odd one or two along the way for sure, but [they're counted] on the one hand. 'You think there's a camaraderie but, in the end, you know you're on your own."
That single-minded focus is a quality that Webber also admires in others, especially in alternative sporting arenas.
"There's just something about people putting themselves in situations where it's just them - and knowing the only way to go is forward," he commented, "Some extreme sport events are fascinating to witness live - to see what a human can do, the concentration levels while knowing just the smallest mistake could mean you might die, is absolutely incredible."
The 34-year old knows, however, that there are occasions where a close relationship can help and is aware that there are individuals he has counted on through his tough trek to the top.
"I think application, desire and determination to learn more are all important," he noted, "Experience is a good thing, but you can't go out and buy that off the street.
"Also, you never know who is watching, so keep pushing and keep trying. Listen to the people who can help you along the way, try and keep the continuity, the people who started out with you. It's nice to have that trust and the continuity with those people while you're going forward as a professional. 'It takes only a small handful of people. Just stick with them."
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