Mark Webber has again decided to extend his relationship with Red Bull Racing, inking a one-year deal to remain with the reigning F1 champions through to the end of the 2012 season.
As in 2010, there had been speculation that the Australian may walk away from a sometimes fractious relationship with the team, which has been accused of favouring team-mate Sebastian Vettel and has propelled the German to six victories in 2011 already, but he admitted that there were few options to rival his current position and, while his motivation remained high, believes that RBR presents the best opportunity to chase a world title.
“I want to continue racing at the top in F1, so it's a no-brainer to remain at Red Bull Racing for another year," Webber confirmed in a statement issued at the Belgian Grand Prix, "My motivation to achieve the best results possible both for myself and the team is still very high.
"Over the past five years, we have worked hard and proved that we can design and build a competitive and championship-winning car, and I'm looking forward to putting the car and myself on the limit again each and every race weekend in 2012.”
Team principal Christian Horner insisted that, despite rumours to the contrary, it always appeared that Red Bull was Webber's preferred destination for next season. The Australian had been linked to both Ferrari and Lotus Renault, as well as possible retirement, in recent months, but Horner maintained that both sides were keen to keep working together.
“When we sat down and started talking about 2012, it was immediately obvious that Mark and the team wanted to continue our successful relationship," the Briton noted, "This meant agreeing an extension for 2012 was very straightforward.
"Mark knows the team well, having been with us since 2007, and his motivation, fitness and commitment is as high as it has ever been. The pairing of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel is a very strong one, they push each other hard and we are extremely happy the pairing will remain unchanged for a fourth season.”
Vettel has already signed a longer-term deal to remain with RBR through to the end of the 2014 season, but it is thought that Webber, who celebrates his 35th birthday today [Saturday], will have received assurances that he will not be asked to play second fiddle to the German, who appears on his way to a second world title.