Webber still has a place with Red Bull
Australian operating on a rolling contract but Horner expects him to stay with team
Mark Webber of Red Bull Racing. Photograph: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Not for the first time going into a new Formula One season, Webber is apparently facing the end of the road.
As a driver operating on a rolling one-year contract with Red Bull, and with the Australian turning 37 in August, there are many who doubt how long he can continue in the sport.
For his part, Webber has made it clear he still has the motivation to become a champion and firmly believes he has the support of the team to help him achieve such a goal.
Despite that, the speculation will always persist about Webber, in particular given the fact his team-mate Sebastian Vettel has won the world title for the last three years.
Team principal Christian Horner said: “The last three years have apparently been Mark’s last.
“Yet he has been retained by the team because of what he has done in the car, and again the same rules apply this year.
“We want the strongest pairing and Mark has contributed significantly to our constructors’ world championships over the last three years, and even came close to winning his own title in 2010.
“Mark has been employed by the team to do the best job he can and he knows what’s expected of him.
“There are an awful lot of drivers who would like to be sat in a Red Bull car but Mark is there on merit, and while he delivers for the team he will have that place.”
It was Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko who fuelled the debate about Webber earlier this year by questioning his mental strength and his consistency.
Marko suggested Webber can be unbeatable for a couple of races, but is unable to maintain such form over a year.
Asked whether Webber has it within him to deliver on a more regular basis, Horner added: “The difficulty for Mark is he is constantly judged against a young man in the other car who has achieved so much.
“What Seb’s done in 101 races, with 26 victories, being a three-time world champion, youngest points scorer, pole winner, race winner, is remarkable.
“Mark’s being constantly measured against a driver that is, in my view, the best of a generation and that makes it harder for him.
“But at the same time Mark measures the opportunity of being measured against the best.
“He has also demonstrated on his day he can be unbeatable and he does just need to string a campaign together, with 19 of those performances.
“He’s improved as he’s matured. Last year he drove very well, and if he can get off to a good start and build up some momentum this season that will be important for his campaign.
“Above all, if we didn’t think he could still do it then we wouldn’t have taken him for another year with the team.”