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Page last updated at 12:22 GMT, Tuesday, 14 July 2009 13:22 UK

Mark Webber column

Ricky Ponting and Mark Webber
Ponting and Webber met to ponder Australia's defence of the Ashes this summer

Mark Webber
By Mark Webber
Red Bull F1 driver

Representing Australia overseas is a big responsibility and, over the coming weeks, that is something I'll have in common with our cricket team.

We follow each other's sports and I'm looking forward to a ferocious Ashes Series against England this summer.

The Baggy Green cap means a lot in terms of what we stand for as a nation. From Don Bradman, through later captains Allan Border and Steve Waugh, and now Ricky Ponting - they are heroes.

The Ashes is an incredibly famous battle and I've been glued to it since I was a youngster.

I did play a bit of cricket back then and I came through the junior ranks in my home town Queanbeyan, New South Wales with Hadds, who you might know better as Australia wicket-keeper Brad Haddin.

There was a lot of talk after Silverstone that I had to beat my team-mate Sebastian Vettel in Germany to retain the balance in the team but that's not the case

But I wasn't cut out for the game - it was a struggle for me to score runs and take many wickets.

Nowadays, I'm relegated to the sidelines. I've been to the last three Ashes Series in England and I'll be at Lord's again this year.

I met a lot of the guys when Waugh was captain and I know now Ricky and Brett Lee pretty well.

Ricky came to see me over the winter in Melbourne after I broke my leg and our relationship is always building because we have similar values.

We've both been compelled by a desire to compete on the world stage, to constantly test ourselves at the highest level and ask ourselves over again: "Can I do it, can I do it?"

Although I'm part of Red Bull in Formula 1, I can't lead a team in the same way that Ricky does on the field.

Having said that, other people still look to both of us for inspiration and to deliver under pressure.

Australia's a long way to go home with your tail between your legs so we want to make sure we perform.

Mark Webber and Steve Waugh
Webber has a long-standing friendship with former Australia captain Waugh

I caught up with Ricky and the rest of the squad in Worcester before their final Ashes warm-up match against the England Lions.

He reckoned the bowlers were quite keen to have a bit of a bowl at me but I was having none of it.

From talking to the team, I think it's pretty straightforward for the Australians - they are ready to go.

There are a lot of new youngsters in the side and they are champing at the bit to get out there and have their first Ashes experience and do battle.

Of course, this series will be different now Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath have retired.

They were phenomenal individuals but they didn't just grow into that stature overnight.

It took a long time for them to form into the team that came close to the dominance of Bradman's famous Invincibles and that is what these young guys have to start building now.

When you are representing Australia the message is clear - you never ever give up and you fight for every inch that you can get.

I race with the Australian coat of arms on the back of my helmet but the UK is my adopted home and I've spent a lot of time with my English partner Ann so I have to be a bit careful.


I love English comedy and the people and it's a beautiful part of the world but when it comes to sport, I don't support England at all.

I reckon this Ashes Series is going to be pretty close but I honestly believe the Australians will come through and keep hold of the little urn.

As for the state of play in F1, well, I'm ready for another close contest at the German Grand Prix this weekend.

We're not expecting our car to be weak at any circuit now and it's a very exciting time for Red Bull.

There was a lot of talk after Silverstone that I had to beat my team-mate Sebastian Vettel in Germany to retain the balance in the team but that's not the case.

It is too early to start backing one driver, and the team are being brilliant with that.

It's only natural that there is a bit of momentum with Sebastian within Red Bull because he took the chequered flag in China and Britain.

You can't escape the fact that it would be different if I had won a race, but if I can qualify a bit higher and keep up the consistency then I'm confident there will be a win just around the corner.

Sebastian is only 3.5 points ahead of me in the drivers' championship which means mathematically I still have a chance to do very well.

I'm staying relaxed but I'm not just going to settle for staying close to him.

Red Bull
Webber says Red Bull boss Horner (second right) is not favouring either of his drivers

I want to play my role in the team as we aim to close down Jenson Button and Brawn's lead in the championships and when Sebastian has made mistakes I've been there to take points for the team.

The battle for the drivers' championship is much tougher for us because, the way he's been driving, I don't see Jenson losing the fight himself.

He has been so impressively consistent in all sessions and all races and just doesn't make mistakes.

Button has a 23-point lead in the championship and that kind of lead means he can afford not to win points in a few races and still stay ahead.

If he loses the world title now, it will be down to a problem from the team, not him.

Brawn are still catchable in the constructors' standings. There is no doubt they are on the front foot with a 30-point lead but it is do-able.

The reality is these are unchartered waters for Red Bull but there is still a lot to play for and I'm not giving up on anything.

Mark Webber was talking to Sarah Holt

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see also
Red Bull blow F1 fight wide open
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Red Bull to change reserve driver
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Button plays down Red Bull gains
21 Jun 09 |  Formula 1
Vettel romps to Silverstone win
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Button hopes to bounce back in Germany
21 Jun 09 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber column
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