Mark Webber admits that he could have been enticed by the lure of racing for the biggest name in motorsport had it not been for realising the greater benefits of inking yet another one-year extension with Red Bull
The Australian's new deal was announced within 48 hours of him winning his second British Grand Prix
in three years, and put an end to suggestions that he may be poised to replace Felipe Massa
alongside good friend Fernando Alonso
at Ferrari. While Massa's hold on the second Prancing Horse remains tenuous, Webber admitted that, for all the ups and downs he has endured at RBR since being paired with Sebastian Vettel, there were too many compelling reasons to re-sign with the team.
"Although I did have talks with Ferrari, staying with Red Bull
was the right thing to do," he wrote in his regular column for BBC Sport
, "I pretty much told Red Bull
owner Dietrich Mateschitz and team principal Christian Horner two or three years ago that I would finish my career with Red Bull. I'm sure everyone understands the lure of racing for Ferrari
but, in the end, there were just too many pros to staying at Red Bull
Racing - it was as simple as that.
"The fact that I am trying to win the championship this year was also a consideration - it would have been that bit harder to keep the momentum going if I was moving to a rival team. That was a factor, but it was certainly not the biggest one. I've been there since 2007, just two years after the team was formed, and we have built a fantastic team. We've won the last two drivers' and constructors' championships and we're right in the fight again this year. It's very hard to turn your back on that sort of performance. "
Webber's win at Silverstone on Sunday - when he hunted Alonso down and claimed the lead with just four laps remaining - consolidated his position as chief pursuer to the Spaniard in this year's championship and made him only the second driver, after Alonso, to win more than one race in 2012.
"Because I'm 36 this summer, people are always asking me when I'm going to retire," he admitted, "But I'm not thinking about that at all. The contract is just for one year, but I'm looking to stay in F1 for longer than that.
"I watched an interview with [Manchester United football star] Ryan Giggs the other day and he was saying that you relax and enjoy it a bit more as you get older. You know you're closer to the end than the beginning, so you want to make the most of the situation you're in. You try to do that bit more, you perform better because you're that bit wiser and you get better results, so you end up staying longer anyway.
"It's an immensely challenging job trying to get the best out of an F1 car and I'm competing with the best drivers in the world. It doesn't get much better than what happened on Sunday - how we won and who we beat. I said to a friend the other day [that it was] a nice podium shot from Silverstone - with Fernando on the right and Sebastian on the left - and how do you replace that when you're not racing any more? Hopefully, I won't have to find an answer to that question for a while."
Ironically, where Webber was adjudged to be one of the keys to this year's F1 driver market, his decision to re-up with Red Bull
could lead to very little change in the line-ups of the biggest teams.