Webber nurses title sorrows as Red Bull party

Abu Dhabi: The T-shirts hailing Mark Webber as 2010 Formula One World Champion were left in their box on Sunday as his Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel took the title instead.

With `We are the Champions` blaring out from the garages, and celebrating team members covering champagne-soaked clothes with `Sebastian Vettel Champion 2010` tops instead, the Australian escaped to the sanctuary of his room.

"He`s down really, to be honest with you," his father Alan told Reuters, watching the party from a distance.

"He fired the arrow and he was aiming for the target way up there and he missed the target and that`s taking a long time to come back down to earth.”

"He`ll get over it and he`ll move on and be somehow wiser I guess," he said.

Webber had led the championship most recently until crashing out of the Korean Grand Prix on Oct. 24 and, winner of four races, started the Abu Dhabi season-ender eight points behind Ferrari`s Fernando Alonso.

In the end, neither man took the title with Vettel coming from 15 points behind to win and crown himself the sport`s youngest champion.

"We knew we had to roll the dice and go for it with the strategy but it left us exposed," Webber said in a release issued by the team.

"I tried my absolute hardest and we did everything we could, but in the end it wasn`t enough.”

"You`ve got to take your hat off to Sebastian, he`s done a great job all year and to lead the championship at the last race, he`s got the timing right and I fully congratulate him."

Bit Superstitious

Team principal Christian Horner said the T-shirts, produced by partner Puma, had not been his idea.

"I told them not to produce anything to tempt fate," said the Briton, whose team won the constructors` title in Sao Paulo last weekend. "I`m sure they`ve done a Mark Webber one as well.”

"I sent an email out about a month ago after Korea and said `Stop. Being a bit superstitious I don`t want to hear about parties, I don`t want to hear about celebrations`. And they produced one (a T-shirt) in Brazil and then they`ve produced another one here.

"It shows how much they listen to me."

Horner said Webber had nothing to be ashamed of: "We`re all very proud of what he`s done, he`s been an awesome competitor," he said. "He could well have won it... obviously he`ll be disappointed and will take a few days to reflect but I think he`ll come back even more motivated.

"He`s a big part of this success, he`s pushed Sebastian to the limit. I`ve just spoken to him and said he should hold his head high and be proud of what he`s achieved this year."

Alan Webber said his son would be back in fighting shape next season.

"Sport`s a great leveller isn`t it really and we are terrible proud of what he`s done this year," he said. "He`s had four wins, but Monaco is the highlight in F1 and motorsport in the world and Mark was able to win that one this year. It`s terrific.

"We`re tickled pink with the four wins. If we go back a few years, I was worried he might have been like Chris Amon, the New Zealander who was there or thereabouts but never won once. Mark`s got a few under his belt now.”

"I am sure he will be back firing on all eight cylinders again next year."

Bureau Report