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Mark Webber column

Mark Webber, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel
Red Bull team-mates Webber and Vettel are chasing Button this season

Mark Webber
By Mark Webber
Red Bull F1 driver

This weekend could be the last Formula 1 grand prix at Silverstone for a very long time - and that is very disappointing.

We've had some fantastic races over the years, with the Nigel Mansell era and Lewis Hamilton in the wet last year, for example, and Silverstone is a great track, especially for F1 cars.

Donington Park, which has a contract to take over the race next year, is a bike track, so it's a shame both categories are swapping because the bike guys love Donington and we love Silverstone. And the track changes they're making at Donington are not going to make much difference.

People think Sebastian's the new Schumacher and should be hosing it, but it's good that's not the case

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has made it clear he thinks the facilities at Silverstone are not up to scratch, but they are a whole lot better than Brazil. The traffic is better than Istanbul and China, so it's a shame it won't continue.

On top of that, Donington is looking a bit shaky so there might not even be a British Grand Prix next year. And that's a concern.

Not to have a British Grand Prix would be totally wrong. It's one of the two or three counties in the world - like Italy, France and Germany - whose motorsport heritage and history should guarantee a race.

LOCKING HORNS WITH VETTEL

I'm enjoying my battle with my team-mate Sebastian Vettel this year.

It's the first time I've had someone so quick as my team-mate, and I've always said that's what it's all about - at this level, you want to compare yourself to the best guys.

Vettel is hot property at the moment and he's done a great job to get where he is but there's just a point and a half between us in the championship.

If he's down the road by 40 seconds at the end of a grand prix and I've done my best, I can't do anything about that, and it's the same with him - he did his best in Turkey and it wasn't enough.

It's going to be like that for the rest of the season. There'll be weekends when I do better and weekends when he does but the most important thing is that we get the best out of the car.

People ask me if I feel under pressure, but I think there's more pressure on Sebastian.

Sebastian Vettel leads Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber during the Spainsh Grand Prix
Webber (behind) is enjoying his battle with team-mate Vettel

In people's eyes, I'm not supposed to be doing what I'm doing. People think he's the new Schumacher and should be hosing it, but it's good that's not the case.

I don't feel any more pressure than when I'm driving for 10th or 12th. There's no pressure to prove anything to anyone but myself.

The last two or three races have gone well for me and less well for Sebastian but things are fine between us.

When you qualify a bit better and some of the races don't go your way, which has been the case in the last three races with Sebastian, you can get frustrated. I've been there.

For the Red Bull team, it's uncharted waters having two drivers who are equal and fighting each other.

It's a bit early in the season to throw in your lot with one guy. You could throw it all in with Sebastian but he crashed in Monaco so you've still got to give both cars the best chance to get the best result possible.

In terms of the championship, at this stage you have to let the drivers do what they do. In Turkey last time out, the team just let us get on with it, which is good.

If Sebastian was 25 points ahead of me now it'd be a different ball game but he's not - we're both still trying to close the gap on Jenson Button, which is proving pretty difficult.

RED BULL v BRAWN

We are the only team to have beaten Brawn in a race this year - but that was in the wet in China. No-one has beaten them in the dry, and that's what we're trying to do.

We'll have to wait and see how we compare to them at Silverstone. I expect us to be strong there, but whether it's enough I don't know.

We expected to have an advantage on Brawn at Turn Eight in Turkey but it wasn't the case - we were pretty much even.

It's got to a point where £80m is paid for one footballer but you're asked to run a whole F1 team and travel the world for £40m

But that's a very specific corner - it's banked and has a lot of bumps - and many of the corners at Silverstone are probably more similar to the two quick ones at Barcelona, Turns Three and Nine, where our car was better than theirs.

In Spain, we might have had a shot at beating them if both Sebastian and I hadn't got caught behind Felipe Massa's Ferrari at the start.

We were four-tenths of a second off a lap in the race in Turkey so there was no way we could take the fight to them there. Hopefully at Silverstone we can go back to more of a Barcelona-type situation.

JENSON BUTTON'S SUCCESS

I'm happy for Jenson Button to be enjoying the limelight this season - he's earned it.

In F1, if you're not good enough, you don't survive - but Jenson has continued to have the talent and desire, and this year it has paid off.

The way he handled last year, particularly with Lewis Hamilton being on the front page of every newspaper and everyone drawing comparisons, was very impressive. He was the forgotten man.

Mark Webber and Jenson Button
"When the helmets are on, we race but afterwards we relate to each other"

He's been down a similar road to me, hanging in there and thinking how it would be nice one day to have the chance to show his ability.

Now he's got the chance and he's taken it with both hands.

We've always got on. When the helmets are on, we race, but afterwards there's a lot of stuff we can relate to each other on.

They say that timing is everything in life and things happen for a reason.

Who'd have predicted, when he went from Williams to Benetton in 2001 and things didn't really work out for him, that eight years later he'd be creaming as many races as he is now?

The way he's handled it from the first lap of winter testing is a credit to him.

THE ON-GOING CIVIL WAR IN F1

It's a great shame that, for the second year in a row, we're not even going to able to go to Silverstone and concentrate on a great venue and a great race.

Friday is the day of the latest deadline in the political row that's going on in Formula 1 at the moment, and the papers are going to be full of all that nonsense, when it should be about Button and the drivers competing in the British GP.

It's disappointing that it has ended up this way, with the teams in a stand-off with the FIA, the governing body, over its plans to change the rules next year and introduce a £40m budget cap

Collectively everyone has played a role in trying to help and protect the sport and you just see all that effort down the years being devalued or diluted through some pretty radical ideas.

British motorsport legends Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart and Damon Hill debate the future of the British Grand Prix

Hill, Moss and Stewart on British Grand Prix

It's good to have some stability, to be able to predict what's going to happen, not have different things going on every six months.

All the drivers share the same view. We want to drive for the best teams and race against the best drivers. If it's not the FIA Formula 1 world championship, so be it. It'll still be the most prestigious championship.

Ferrari are crucial. Everyone wants to beat them and McLaren. They're awesome teams and big set-ups who've taken years to get into that situation, they are respected and we want to beat these guys.

It's the first time ever pretty much all the teams have the same view. For the sake of the sport, the main constructors and people who have the real vision believe they need to take a stand.

It doesn't have to be this way but it's been pretty predictable. There have been lots of little ding-dongs going on over the last few years.

606: DEBATE
BoingBoingWBA1

It's now got to a point where £80m is paid for one player to play football but you're asked to run a whole F1 team and travel the world for £40m. How can you do that overnight?

It's incredibly disruptive and not that easy to achieve. The positions Ferrari and Toyota in particular have taken in trying to address costs in the future have been incredible, from what I hear.

Other teams say that's why they're in Fota, the teams' umbrella group, because the position the big teams have taken is incredibly reasonable and very good. Hopefully they are going to reach a good solution.

Mark Webber was talking to Andrew Benson



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see also
Mark Webber column
07 May 09 |  Formula 1
Hartley joins Red Bull as reserve
01 May 09 |  Formula 1
Watch Mark Webber's first lap
26 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber column
20 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
The row that has split F1
17 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber column
25 Mar 09 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber column
12 Feb 09 |  Formula 1
Mark Webber column
13 Jan 09 |  Formula 1
Vettel seals first Red Bull win
19 Apr 09 |  Formula 1
Brawn still team to beat - Webber
20 Apr 09 |  Formula 1


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