Red Bull driver Mark Webber has rejected any suggestion that his desire to win the Formula 1 world championship had diminished in the wake of team mate Sebastian Vettel’s domination of the sport in 2011.
The Australian sits fourth in the championship standings, 127 points behind Vettel who starts the Japanese Grand Prix as world champion-elect, needing just a single point to retain his crown
Webber has been quoted as saying that he would never get as close to taking the title as he did in 2010 but he has since dismissed the words attributed to him.
“I didn’t say that definitely – 100 per cent Red Bull- that 2010 was my last chance ever,” he said in Japan.
“This year the car has been very different, and Sebastian has done a phenomenal job.
“Next year we have some changes coming — nothing massive — but there’s some changes, and I have to go into it with positive thoughts.
“It won’t be pretty for all of us if it’s the same as this year, but we have to be optimistic. That’s all of our goals.”
Vettel, 24, has won nine races this year, while Webber is yet to add to his tally of six career victories, the last coming in the 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix.
The 35-year-old said being out of championship contention with five races to go was a big comedown after last year, when he was still in with a shout of the crown at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Reasoning that his form last year was “abnormal”, Webber said his German team-mate stormed ahead in the title race leaving his rivals with too much to do early in the season.
“Last year was exceptional; it’s not every year you fight for a title. It’s back to normal at the moment, but I want to try to get it to abnormal for the future,” he said.
“Winning is a beautiful feeling, but obviously one guy has done too much of it this year, which hasn’t been great for all of us.”
Webber, who finished second in last year’s Japanese Grand Prix, will be looking to improve his poor run of race starts at Suzuka this weekend.
The Australian has dropped places off the grid in six consecutive races, and knows that a maiden win in Japan will likely depend on a strong start to Sunday’s 53-lap race.
“It makes the race very difficult when you’re on the back foot from the first lap,” Webber said, explaining that a combination of faults with his car and his own errors were to blame.
“We need to do better and I need to do better, it’s as simple as that.”