Red Bull’s Helmut Marko insists: Webber is the number two driver
By Berthold Bouman
Austrian and ex-Formula driver Helmut Marko, who is the controversial advisor of the Red Bull team, has once again stated Mark Webber is the number two driver at Red Bull, and he expects the Australian to help Sebastian Vettel to grab his fourth successive title this season.
Marko spoke with the German Bild magazine and said, “Mark knows what we expect of him. For four years, Vettel and Webber have driven together in our team. Sebastian was runner-up once and champion three times. The statistic speaks for itself. There is no reason to think the balance of power will change.”
Webber signed a new one-year deal last season, but Marko is still not happy with the role the Australian played during last year’s season finale in Brazil. “Mark was not optimally cooperative in Brazil,” said Marko, referring to the fact Webber didn’t let his team mate just pass him in the same way Felipe Massa did for Fernando Alonso.
Webber, however, has no plans to play a supporting role this season. During the Mark Webber Challenge in Tasmania in November last year he said, “Obviously with Sebastian’s form, he’s clearly on the front foot. Not only from within our team, but he’s won three world titles on the bounce now so all the drivers have got to try and topple him.”
But he added, “I don’t go there thinking I’ve got to be playing a team role as such. I’m there for myself to get the best results possible and to do that I need to be part of the team. So, no, I’m not going there thinking of [myself] in a supporting role at all.”
In the past Webber has hinted he wants to end his Formula One career with Red Bull, and when asked about a possible retirement he said, “I haven’t been there yet but it is going to be a very difficult moment, no question about it. I suppose it’s just about getting the timing right — not pulling the plug too early, knowing you have more to give of yourself, or going too long and not being quick enough or struggling to do the things you used to be able to do. That can become an issue as well.”
Webber is, now that Michael Schumacher has retired and Pedro de la Rosa will not compete in 2013, at 36 years the oldest driver of the field, and he is aware of that. “I’m not at the start of the career, I know that. I’m more towards the end of my career. I have fought for championships and I’ve had some good and very special memories over the past few years.”
But he doesn’t think he’s ready to retire yet, “You’ve got to be honest with yourself and say ‘look mate, it’s the right time now — and I don’t think it is the right time now!”