Mark Webber’s future in F1 could be decided as early as this week, although it could not be known publically for “months”, the Australian has told the Austrian media.
His comments come in the wake of Red Bull’s advisor Dr Helmut Marko engaging in his usual
anti-Webber stance pot-stirring , suggesting to Australia’s One broadcaster during the Hungarian pre-race broadcast that the 34-year-old would “probably” retire at the end of the 2012 season.
This in turn prompted a hasty clarification from team boss Christian Horner, who claimed – among other things, that Marko’s comments were taken out of context – that Webber could well remain in F1 for several more years.
“I think Helmut was probably focusing more on [Daniel] Ricciardo, and these things can obviously get lost in translation,” he told the Daily Mail.
“Mark could have another two, three or four years in F1. That’s down to him because he is still very competitive, very hungry.”
The suggestion in the paddock was that a contract extension for Webber – who typically enters into one-year deals only – was simply a formality.
“We’re talking about Mark for next year, and I’m expecting him to be here,” Horner added. “Both sides are keen to continue, so during the next few weeks we will take the opportunity to sit down, and with this break in the championship look at next year.”
And Webber seemed to indicate this was the case, telling Austria’s Servus TV: “On Thursday will have a good conversation with [Red Bull Racing owner] Dietrich Mateschitz.
“During the summer break we will discuss it one way or the other, then we will know in the next few months.”
Webber – who lies second in the Drivers’ Championship standings despite being winless this season – believes his form still warrants him for consideration in the driver market.
“Whether I’m here depends ultimately on my motivation and whether I can race at the top level. At the moment it looks as though I will keep going,” he continued.
“Naturally I’m speaking to the people who are close to me and who have supported me and I will make my decision when I need to. Soon.”
And when asked about his performance relative to his team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who has disappeared into the distance with a seemingly unbeatable lead in the championship standings, he said: “I have the feeling that I am getting stronger all the time.
“It’s going in the right direction.”
[Original image via Sutton Images]