Red Bull’s Mark Webber has vowed to return a better driver next season after the disappointment of missing out on the Formula One world title in the season finale on the weekend.
The Australian might have claimed the crown with a victory in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but could only manage eighth place and had to watch as his young teammate, Sebastian Vettel, won the race and a first drivers’ title for the team.
“I’m still feeling bitterly disappointed about what happened in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix; I aimed for the biggest target in motorsport and it didn’t work out,” the 34-year-old Webber wrote in his column in Australia’s Daily Telegraph on Tuesday. “I’m reminded of that great adage, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Well, I’m still alive and I’m sure I’ll bounce back from this season a better driver.”
“Right now, though, I need a good break. The gas has been wide open since the third week in January and it’s been a long season. There’s been a lot of travel and a lot of effort. It’s time for some time out.”
After a career as a well-respected but largely journeyman driver, Webber was expected to play second fiddle to Vettel’s championship challenge this season.
The Australian more and more forcefully made it clear that he did not consider himself as a number two driver and four race wins took him to a title-race lead he held until he crashed out of the South Korean Grand Prix last month.
Despite his dissatisfaction at the way the final drama panned out, he paid tribute to Vettel’s championship triumph.
“We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve pushed each other and it’s always rewarding to get out of bed to do that,” Webber wrote.
“It’s amazing to think that the only time he led the championship was after the last race, but that’s the only time it matters.”
Webber, who ended up third in the drivers’ standings behind Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, said his poor qualification for the final race had played a large part in his failure to challenge on Sunday.
“But you can’t blame my loss on one race weekend, you have to look at the season as a whole,” he added.
“You can point to the odd qualifying session here and there, when I missed out to Sebastian Vettel by a few thousandths of a second, you can look at the races where I pushed him over the line … and those small differences add up over 19 races.”
Some, like Webber’s compatriot and triple world champion Jack Brabham, believe Webber has blown the only chance he will have of ending Australia’s three decades without a champion.
Webber is too tough a competitor to ever concede such a thing but did say he might look more favourably on by far his best season in Formula One at some point in the future.
“Whatever the extent of my disappointment, there are still lots of positives to take out of the 2010 season,” he said.
“Red Bull Racing have won two world championships, which is a phenomenal effort by everyone at the factory in Milton Keynes.
“I’ve taken five pole positions and four victories, and I’m even proud of some of my second places because they were well-executed race weekends. I’ll probably look back in due course and think this season wasn’t a bad effort.” — Reuters