Mark Webber confirms he'll finish season with Red Bull but won't commit beyond 2013
Aussie says team did all they could to resolve row in Sepang
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 11/04/13 10:58am
Mark Webber admits his relationship with Sebastian Vettel is strained after the overtaking incident in Malaysia.
Mark Webber has confirmed he will finish the season with Red Bull but refused to commit his future to the World Champions beyond the end of the 2013 campaign.
Both Webber's immediate and long-term future with Red Bull were plunged into considerable doubt in the wake of the Malaysian GP team orders furore which saw the Australian overtaken by Sebastian Vettel despite orders from the pitwall to maintain position behind his team-mate.
Webber himself dropped a cryptic hint before leaving Sepang that Vettel's disobedience could have resulted in him walking away from the team. However, making his first public comments since departing Malaysia, the 36-year-old has insisted that quitting Red Bull isn't an option - at least not yet.
"I'm definitely keen to finish the season - a lot of people were questioning that, but that wasn't something on my mind," Webber declared during the Drivers' Press Conference at Shanghai on Thursday. "There was never any chance of me not coming to China - maybe to miss the debrief in Malaysia, but missing China wasn't an option."
Yet with the Australian's rolling one-year contract due to expire in eight months, his medium-term future with Red Bull seemingly remains more uncertain than ever with Webber in no rush to commit to another season alongside Vettel.
"Year-by-year [contract extensions], that's how it has always been for me, so come the summer I will talk to Dietrich and we'll go from there," Webber confirmed. "We're only at the third race and I have never, ever made decisions about my career at this point in a season and, although it's a topic at the moment, I don't see why I should make any decisions about the future."
It will surely not go unnoticed amid the ongoing criticism of the Red Bull hierarchy for failing to instruct Vettel to cede position back to Webber in Malaysia that, when discussing his future, the Australian name-checked Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz rather than team boss Christian Horner.
However, speaking to Sky Sports News immediately after the press conference had finished, Webber made plain that any lingering resentment from events in Malaysia would only be directed at his team-mate.
"Obviously the relationship has been strained and it's not the first time," said Webber. "At the moment we will just focus on our individual performances and go from there.
"I think the team did not a bad job in Malaysia actually. They tried to do what they could do for the first time in a while. It was a very awkward situation for a lot of people. That scenario may never, ever happen again this year - but it might happen again this weekend. That's something we don't know so let's see what decisions in the future."
Amid the fall-out from the Sepang controversy, it's been easy to overlook the fact that reigning World Champion Vettel once again leads the World Championship - and easier still that Webber would boast as many points as his team-mate if only Red Bull's 'multi-21' instruction had been obeyed by Vettel at Sepang.
As he reflected on Malaysia, the realisation he remains a leading contender - albeit with a formidable opponent to overcome in the form of three-times champion Vettel - to clinch his first F1 world title must have surely proved a persuasive force as the Australian rejected any temptation to walk away from Red Bull and, most probably, F1.
"I'm keen to race this year and put together a strong campaign and challenge for more wins - you do that and more things can happen.
"I'm fine, I had a little bit of relaxation, and now I'm really looking forward to getting back in the car," the Aussie told reporters. "We've proved the car is pretty competitive at the first two races, but nobody is dominant and we know we have work to do. We didn't have a car good enough to win in Australia but in Malaysia certainly did."
Indeed, they had two.