Mark Webber has said that there is no point getting carried away with 'what ifs' before pre-season testing has even started, but admits that he is looking forward to trying the new Red Bull RB9.
The Australian has spent the past six weeks in his native Australia, reflecting on the success of his eponymous adventure race, but also getting into shape, physically and mentally, ahead of the start of the 2013 F1 campaign. RBR is scheduled to launch its season on Sunday (3 February) with the unveiling of the RB9, before Webber and world champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel take to the track for the first day of testing a week from now (5 February).
After a relatively successful 2012, in which he won races in Monaco and Great Britain, Webber faded to sixth in the standings, but appears to have no trouble getting fired up for the year to come, even though he will have to overcome certain hurdles on his side of the garage.
“I'm sure we've got another exciting and challenging season ahead, and it'll be interesting to see who comes out of the gates strongly,” he noted in a Q&A published on his personal website, “You might get an inkling to the form book from pre-season testing, but it's only when we arrive in Melbourne for the first race that the gloves really come off.
“I'm certainly looking forward to getting my hands on the RB9, [but] I also have a new race engineer in Simon Rennie. It's going to be important to have a solid pre-season with him after spending some six years with Ciaron Pilbeam, who I had a long and enjoyable relationship with, but is no longer with the team.
“I'm looking forward to starting the season in Australia having prepared very well for it over the past two months. But it's clear there's no point getting too far ahead of yourself, so it's a case of taking each week, test and race as it comes.”
While Webber has made himself a popular figure within the Red Bull camp – spending New Year at Dietrich Mateschitz's private resort in Fiji - his obvious dislike at being cast into the number two role behind Vettel has not gone down well with everyone. Helmut Marko, in particular, has been an outspoken critic of the Australian, and recently continued to air his views in the drinks brand's Red Bulletin
magazine, claiming that he was only strong in one or two races a year and would never be able to live with Vettel.
"It seems to me that Webber has, on average, two races per year where he is unbeatable, but he can't maintain his form throughout the year," Marko observed, "The statistic speaks for itself. There is no reason to think the balance of power will change."
Webber, who led Vettel in the standings for a time in both 2010 and 2012, insists that he is no longer bothered by what the Austrian thinks.