Mark Webber has confounded suggestions that the 2012 F1 season may be his last in the top flight by insisting that he remains keen to continue chasing that elusive world championship title.

Echoing close friend Jenson Button's comments after the Briton extended his deal with McLaren earlier this year, Webber appeared to backtrack on claims that he may be considering an imminent retirement, even though a sequence of single-year deals have hinted that that may have been his outlook. The belief that 2012 may be Webber's last has not been helped by Red Bull Racing advisor Helmut Marko, who has also hinted that Webber could be considering quitting.

"Yeah, absolutely I can see myself going a bit longer," he told Britain's Daily Mail newspaper, "Helmut's been quite keen to do one-year contracts and, in a way, it hasn't been too bad for me as well. That's been his starting point for the last three or four years. That's the way it's been, and as always it gets to the middle of the year, we sit down and have a chat about things."

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The one-year extensions to his ongoing deal with RBR appear to have suited Webber as he continues to face a degree of favouritism towards team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Although 2011 was not as bad as the previous season, the Australian was still told to hold station behind his younger colleague while chasing second place at Silverstone, and had to wait until Interlagos for his one and only win of the campaign.

Even that came amid suggestions that Vettel's 'exhaust problem' had been a convenient disguise for a switch of positions in Webber's favour, but the Australian isn't about to let the whispers interfere with his focus for 2012.

"All of us - apart from Seb obviously - didn't have the year that we wanted to," the former Minardi, Jaguar and Williams driver said after watching Vettel take a second title on the back of eleven wins and 15 pole positions, "But you can't still deny the fact that we had a bloody consistent year, which you can take for granted some times.

"I didn't get as many wins as I wanted but, on the points front, I think Jenson [Button] and I scored enough to have won the title last year. [It's just that], this year, the points were blown out because Seb had such a good season. That's just the way it went, and sometimes that happens in sport when someone gets on such a roll and the momentum is flowing. It's up to us to make sure that doesn't happen next year."

Asked whether he was ready to take Vettel on in 2012, Webber insisted that it wasn't just the German he needed to worry about.

"Obviously I don't just think about him, I think about everyone," he retorted, "McLaren are going to be strong, Ferrari are going to be strong, and we need to start well.

"It's the fine margins. If you start to rack a few wins up, then things change, as in 2010. It's very hard for everyone to get their head around how certain drivers might come back and others might lose their form. But this happens, it definitely happens, and you need to be there to capitalise."

Between now and then, Webber has a few formalities to take care of - this weekend's FIA prize-giving in Delhi, the result of Button's late pass on Fernando Alonso in Brazil, among them - but his immediate focus is on the resurrection of the adventure race that nearly cost him his F1 career a couple of years ago. Dormant for three years after the leg-breaking accident that cast doubt on his ability to return to the cockpit, the Australian has brought the fund-raising event back for 2011, and intends to contest as much of the route as he can before having to leave for India.

"It was great to end the F1 season on a high with a win in Brazil and that has really set my competitive juices flowing for the Challenge," the 35-year old said as he prepared to get underway in Tasmania, "It's such a buzz to have the event back on again - I've missed it - and I can't wait to get back into the wild and race through those great Tasmanian trails again.

"We live life in a bit of a fishbowl in F1 and it's great to get back out to nature. What I love about the Challenge is not only the scenery, but also the chance to get to know some real characters. Everyone has a similar mindset - it's competitive, but there's also a lot of camaraderie involved. We've got a very varied field this year, including several international teams, and the event is quickly regaining momentum. It's amazing to think it started off as just a trek through the bush with a few mates back in 2003 and now it's raised more than a million dollars for charity through the Mark Webber Foundation."

This year's Challenge will cover a course of around 350km and involves a variety of disciplines including kayaking, mountain biking, trail running and rope work, and Webber put in some pre-event training with a 6.5km adventure run around Hobart last Sunday. He also took the opportunity to test some of the Challenge course ahead of the event itself and was itching to get underway for real today [Wednesday].

"The opening day of the event always has a great atmosphere and I am looking forward to taking to the start line with all this year's competitors," he admitted, "The route looks like it's going to be awesome and there's plenty to keep us busy on day one with bikes, kayaks, running and kayaking all in the mix. I would love to do more of the event, but my F1 commitments take priority and I need to be in India and the UK later this week. [However] I will be watching online to see how it's all going and I am sure Guy and Darren Clark, who will pick up my baton, will keep flying the flag.

"Some days will involve up to 90kms of racing, so it's a tough event, but it's all about getting to the finish and, if someone's struggling, the other competitors know how to pick them up and help them get through. The greatest stories we've had in the event come from those real heroes who achieve beyond what they thought they could.

"It's a great tonic for me to see that, and also to see the funds that everyone raises for the chosen charities. It's also a good chance to unwind a bit, and it will set me up for what I hope will be a good winter of preparation to fight hard for the F1 championship again when we get back on track again next year."