Webber desperate to get back on track
Sydney: Australia`s Mark Webber, desperate to get racing after the delay to the start of the Formula One season, thinks he "probably" has his best chance of winning his home grand prix in Melbourne this weekend.
Speaking by telephone from the launch of the Mark Webber Challenge in Tasmania, the 34-year-old Red Bull driver also said he had no intention of putting away his mountain bike despite sustaining two injuries on it in the last three years.
Webber, third last year, and his world champion team mate Sebastian Vettel are again expected to be the team to beat when the season, delayed because of the postponement of the Bahrain race after unrest in the Gulf kingdom, gets underway on Sunday.
"It`s time to get racing now," Webber told reporters on Tuesday. "It`s nearly April now and we`ve been working hard since the beginning of January and we haven`t even done a competitive lap yet."
"Ready to go racing now, sick of the talk about it. We just need get on the track and see where everyone stacks up when the gloves are off."
"We had a phenomenal season last year (so) we`re the hunted now," he added. "Obviously Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Renault -- all those big boys -- are all going to have a crack at us now to put us back down the order again."
Red Bull monopolised the front row of the grid at last year`s Melbourne race but Vettel failed to finish from pole and Webber ended up in ninth place and a reprimand from the stewards after a collision with McLaren`s British driver Lewis Hamilton.
Webber, whose best finish at Albert Park was fifth, conceded this weekend "probably" was his best chance to become the first Australian to win his home race.
"Hopefully we can have a better race this weekend and get the season off to a nice solid start," he said.
"Personally for me I want to get out there and execute a really clean weekend and hopefully the rest will take care of itself."
"It`s human nature that you always want more, and it would be great to put (an Australian Grand Prix win) in amongst a Monaco Grand Prix and a Silverstone (British) Grand Prix," he added.
"It`s clear that the Australian Grand Prix is important to me, that`s obvious."
The sometimes acrimonious battle between the experienced Webber and his young team mate was among the more intriguing contests of last season and the Australian is aware that he needs to get off to a good start when they renew their rivalry.
"Momentum is always important and that`s why I think it was good that it was so balanced all the way through last year," said Webber, adding he was responsible for 48 percent of Red Bulls points last season as they won the constructors` title.
"I`m focusing on doing that again and perhaps a little bit more and that`s got to happen from the off."
"I need to win a few more races," he added. "I won four but the guy who won the championship won five, it`s just those fine margins, you`ve got to keep all the good stuff that you did and work on the details."
Webber, who lives in Britain, took advantage of the trip back home to launch the 2011 Mark Webber Challenge, an annual multi-sport event for elite and not so elite athletes which will take place in Tasmania in December.
"We`ve raised a lot of funds (for charity) but also a lot of people in the five or six challenges we`ve had have had some really, really positive outcomes in what they achieved," Webber recalled proudly.
It will come as no surprise that the event features mountain biking along with kayaking, trekking and other outdoor pursuits. Webber has been mountain biking since 1997 and considers it a key part of his conditioning and preparation for driving.
That is despite accidents in late 2008 that disrupted his start to the 2009 season and in Singapore last year which led to him racing with a fractured shoulder in the last four races of the season.
"Of course, I`m not reckless, both incidents had their circumstances," he said. "I think for me to lock myself in a gym, I wouldn`t enjoy my preparation for my job then, so I need to get the balance right."