(Reuters) - Australian Mark Webber has no interest in playing a support role for triple world champion Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull and is just as keen to beat the German as anyone else on the grid.
Vettel claimed his third consecutive world title on Sunday with a sixth-place finish at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix, edging out Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso by three points.
The drivers title race went down to the wire, and still may offer a sting in the tail with Ferrari reportedly weighing up a challenge, but the battle in the Red Bull garage was a mismatch with Vettel finishing 102 points ahead of Webber.
Despite the gap, the 36-year-old Australian’s place at Red Bull for next season was never in doubt and Webber is confident his role is not simply to help Vettel attain more success.
“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,” Webber told reporters in Tasmania on Thursday.
”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 in a supporting role at all.”
Webber finished sixth in the drivers championship after claiming two victories, at Monaco and Silverstone, compared to Vettel’s five race wins.
Collectively the duo delivered a third consecutive constructors title for Red Bull but had to endure worrying reliability issues at the normally reliable English-based team.
Webber suffered back-to-back retirements in Abu Dhabi and Texas, which proved costly for the former Williams, Jaguar and Minardi driver.
”Ultimately we just weren’t consistent enough compared to 2010 and 2011,“ Webber said. ”Our qualifying pace this year was a very, very good step forward but (not) our Sunday performances.
“It wasn’t strong enough towards the end but they’re fine margins and before you know it, the odd non-finish here and there, and the points are not in your favor.”
Reporting by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by Peter Rutherford