Dietrich Mateschitz has pronounced that Mark Webber is every bit 'as good as' his defending F1 World Champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel – the man whose perceived preferential treatment at the hands of Red Bull Racing management last year led to the Australian admitting that he felt like 'a number two driver'.
Webber heads into the forthcoming F1 2011 World Championship campaign – beginning with his home outing Down Under in Melbourne at the end of the month – determined to come out fighting and turn the tables on Vettel to clinch the laurels for himself.
The Adrian Newey-penned RB7 again appears to have the legs of the field from pre-season testing evidence to-date, and Red Bull owner Mateschitz contends that as long as the team gives him the tools with which to do the job, then the 34-year-old – who has recently hinted at ending his career with RBR, albeit not anytime just yet [see separate story – click here
] – is talented enough to take care of the rest.
“Mark's personality is different, but he is as good as Sebastian,” the billionaire energy drinks entrepreneur told German news agency SID
, reiterating that the pair will benefit from absolute parity of equipment and opportunity in 2011. “They are both excellent warriors who can both win the war.”
Meanwhile, in the wake of Vettel's quips about one day driving for Ferrari and his admission that it would be 'a dream' to race for the legendary Prancing Horse – or even for Mercedes – Mateschitz concedes that should the German wish to go elsewhere in the future, Red Bull will not stand in his way.
The 23-year-old is contracted to the Milton Keynes-based squad for 2011, with an 'option' for 2012 – and team principal Christian Horner has previously joked that he would like to retain his young protégé's
services until 2028 and is accordingly 'building the team around Sebastian' [see separate story – click here
“Whether we 'fear' losing him is not the terminology we would use,” Mateschitz underlined. “As long as Sebastian is comfortable with us and has a winning car, he will probably not really think about going elsewhere – but if he tells us one day he wants to go to Ferrari or Mercedes, we would have to understand. We would let him go.”