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Webber unfazed by Marko 'agenda'

29 January 2013

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.

“Look, everyone at this level has their own agendas and it's been evident for a long time now that I've never been a part of Marko's,” he said.

On a more personal note, Webber should be back to full fitness before the first wheel is turned in anger at Jerez, having had the final piece of metalwork removed from the leg he broke on an earlier edition of the Pure Tasmania Challenge he lends his name to.

“I had the final procedure on my right leg at the start of December to remove a 40cm titanium rod,” he confirmed, “The surgery went very smoothly and my recovery was exceptional. I had a few weeks off from my normal training schedule, but I was able to ease myself back into it by the first week of January and now I'm back into it properly.

“I didn't really know what to expect from having it removed, apart from my own peace of mind, but I'm very happy that some of the niggles and pain I've sometimes experienced with my training over the past three years already seem to be a thing of the past.”


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