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Webber: I have no desire to come back
6 December 2013
Mark Webber insists that he will not be casting covetous glances in F1's direction next season, despite admitting to having had options to remain in the top flight.
The Australian called time on his grand prix career ahead of the British round back in June, making the rest of the season something of a farewell tour before he heads for Porsche's nascent sports prototype return.
Admitting that he has become tired of the sport's politics and restrictive technical package, as well as the friction within the Red Bull camp, Webber decided to turn his back on a series that has been his him since debuting with a points finish at the 2002 Australian Grand Prix, and insists that it is unlikely that he will be making a U-turn any time soon.
“I have no desire to come back to the sport,” the veteran maintained during an interview with BT Sport's Claire Balding Show, “The future has been Sebastian, they want to keep him happy as much as they can, and things come onto the radar and you think 'this is probably not how I would like it', so it does go into the decision.”
Webber revealed that he remained in demand even after his Silverstone announcement, with even current employer apparently looking at the option of retaining his services for another season.
“Teams like Lotus and Ferrari - and even Red Bull to a degree, once they couldn't get Kimi [Raikkonen] - were on the radar so to speak,” he confirmed, before recalling that it wouldn't have been the first time Maranello had come calling.
“I had a Ferrari contract, but we didn't get enough momentum at the time,” he continued, “I was at the Canadian Grand Prix 2012, [and] I made a decision. I was in the hotel room, my gut was 'no, I'm not going to do it'. People around me were keen for it to happen, but I was [thinking] 'no, I can't'. F1 teams have 500 people, but to go and learn 500 people and learn the new scenario, it takes time. When you're 22 [years old], you're running through walls, but when you're 36, 37...”
Ultimately, it was the technical direction in which the sport was headed that convinced Webber that he ought to look beyond the confines of the F1 paddock. With tyre rules already not to his liking, next year's potential for fuel consumption to become an issue was the final straw. However, it is the end-of-season form of team-mate Sebastian Vettel that the Australian believes has the biggest potential to turn neutrals away from the game.
“I think, in any sport, it's our nature [that] we like to see a contest,” he reasoned, “If you're a massive, massive Seb fan, then you are probably going to watch every grand prix. It's very, very rare [to have that level of domination] - it was '56 or '58 the last time that someone won that many races in a row so, hopefully for the sport, that won't happen again for a while. Next year, I think there will be some different winners - Red Bull are still the favourites, but I think there will be a bit of a mix up.”
Vettel won the final nine races of 2013, taking his fourth straight title in the process, and, while their personal relationship was never the most cordial, Webber acknowledges what the German had done on track.
“We've had some tough moments as competitors at that level,” he admitted, “As team-mates, it's notorious that guys in the same team want the same turf and, particularly when I was very competitive against him in 2009-10, it was a very tight battle.
“The last few years though, Seb's been stronger, done a very good job and off he's gone. I've not been not quite where I was, and those types of things can put strain on relationships and put strain on other people's positions within the team.
“Unfortunately, we're pretty intense, you're so focused on yourself and are super-selfish and you're not interested in relationships. We do end up getting each other's Christmas Cards each year, which is quite bizarre - but they're not sincere…”
Mark Webber was speaking on The Clare Balding Show - to see the full interview tune in to BT Sport 1 at 9pm on Saturday 7 December