Mark Webber has vowed to improve despite now sharing a team garage with F1’s youngest ever double world champion.
Less than a year ago, the Australian arrived at the season finale as a favourite for the championship, amid rumours he might be snapped up by Ferrari.
But ten days into October of 2011, his teammate Sebastian Vettel is the back-to-back title winner.
“We have had some problems but, ultimately, the problem is that I have not been fast enough or consistent enough to fight for wins with Sebastian,” admitted the 35-year-old.
Webber said he has struggled to adapt to the Pirelli tyres and make good race starts but “It’s true that I have struggled with Seb”, he told the Spanish newspaper El Pais.
“He has not had any problems with the tyres, with getting up and running at a good pace without destroying them. I have to improve,” said Webber.
El Pais also reminded Webber that, last year amid the Silverstone front wing saga, he said that if he knew he was subordinate to his teammate, he would not sign a new deal.
“What has changed to make you sign for another season?” asked the newspaper.
Webber answered: “I re-signed because I had no choice.”
But he denied that his single year deal is making him nervous, with drivers like Fernando Alonso and now Jenson Button locked into contracts for the long term.
“They are younger than me, but it doesn’t worry me too much,” insisted Webber. “You can sign for two or three years but I am sure that Jenson and Fernando have clauses to opt out if they don’t have competitive cars.”
And he insists he is not necessarily now Vettel’s ‘number 2’.
“Well, both this year and last year we started on equal terms but it ended well for Sebastian. This time I have just been fighting to win races.
“I have to be prepared because, maybe, he’s not going to like the new car or is not comfortable with it,” said Webber.
But he acknowledged that Vettel is likely to remain up to speed because the RB8 “is going to be very similar to what we have now”.