Mark Webber fears that Red Bull Racing has been left behind by its rivals in the pre-season development rush, as the start of the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship campaign approaches apace in Melbourne next weekend.

The Adrian Newey-penned, Renault-powered RB5 is by common consent the most aesthetically-pleasing car in what is a field of predominantly ugly ducklings following the top flight's substantial aerodynamic regulation changes for the forthcoming season, and in its initial tests it certainly seemed to have the pace to match its looks.

Rated strongly by rivals early on, the Milton Keynes-based squad's new machine was widely tipped to battle it out for the leading positions in Australia and beyond, but whilst reliability has been encouraging, the pace would since appear to have stalled, as rivals have not only improved their own packages but even - on the face of things - leapfrogged Red Bull.

"The car did not feel bad, and that is the most alarming thing," Webber told German magazine Auto Motor und Sport, alluding to the recent lack of pace in comparison to RBR's competitors. "The others have developed better than we have."

The Aussie - who is continuing to recover from a broken leg sustained in a mountain-biking accident during his annual charity Pure Tasmania Challenge last November - also admitted that the basic set-up of the car suits new team-mate Sebastian Vettel's driving style better than his own.



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