Red Bull thrives from Webber-Vettel duel

© Rob Harris, AP, 12 July 2012
© AP Photo/Tim Hales

Mark Webber has ended another summer of speculation about his future with Red Bull. Now he can only hope the focus is on hunting down Fernando Alonso in the title race.

Small chance of that.

Signing up for another year with Red Bull ensures another chapter in the intriguing duel with Sebastian Vettel for team superiority.

Webber openly concedes all of this can be "stressful" to grapple with as motorsport remains on alert for the next bout of squabbling between the pair.

"It's not easy for both of us to be at the front and I can understand that as both of us are thinking about ourselves sometimes," Webber said. "But ultimately we know that we need to get the cars home and get the best results for us and the team."

Vettel is the reigning double world champion, but a third title isn't looking as certain as the second.

Webber notched a second victory this season on Sunday by overtaking Alonso with four laps with go to win the British Grand Prix, leaving Vettel with just one win in 2012.

And while Webber is only 13 points behind Alonso, Vettel is 16 points adrift of his teammate in the drivers' standings in third place. When Webber won at Silverstone in 2010 he memorably said over the team radio: "Not bad for a number two driver."

Ask Webber who is considered to be the No. 1 driver in Red Bull and he accepts it is still Vettel.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner strives to downplays any tensions.

"Not bad for a number two driver." - Webber after winning the 2010 British GP

"They have spent a lot time racing each other and they have spent hundreds of hours together working on developing the car and I think they have a genuine respect for each other," Horner said. "Sebastian knows in Mark he has a very genuine competitor, and Mark knows Sebastian has been the benchmark for the last couple of years. It's a healthy situation for the team. I think they now have more experience."

Webber had considered a move with Ferrari before signing the 2013 contract this week.

Rather than running the risk of another fraught partnership there -- with Alonso -- he's willing to take his partnership with Vettel into a fifth year.

"I think no one would really have envisaged how long we have worked together, so that's probably been a bit of a surprise," Webber said. "There are not many teammates staying together for that long in Formula 1, but it's proved to be a successful partnership with both of us working very hard with the key technical members of the team. It's been a potent operation.

"We're still competitive when we hit the track, no question about it, especially in 2010 and this year. Last year there wasn't much racing between Sebastian and I, but in 2009, 2010 and this year, there have been some great battles."

And it's good for Red Bull, which is 64 points ahead of Ferrari in the constructors' championship.

Vettel also prefers to be able to keep a close eye on Webber.

"I have the advantage in that he's in the same team so I can see what he's doing," the 25-year-old German said.

The 35-year-old Webber never plans to race for another team after committing to Red Bull.

"I've been hearing different rumours and reasons for a long time now," he said. "At the end of the day I know everything that has been going on. You want to make sure your focus is clearly on driving the car and the guys that you're working with. It's important the team knows you're 100 percent with them, which, of course, I am."


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