Mark Webber knows he has to improve on his qualifying performance if he's to beat team-mate Sebastian Vettel in 2012

Australian Formula One star Mark Webber says getting the better of his Red Bull Racing teammate Sebastian Vettel in qualifying holds the key to his world championship aspirations when the 2012 season roars into life in Melbourne next weekend.

The 35-year-old Australian qualified ahead of his world champion teammate just three times last season, with Vettel converting a stunning fifteen pole positions in nineteen races into eleven victories en route to a second successive title.

Speaking to the Australian Grand Prix ‘Keeping Track’ podcast, Webber said that halting Vettel’s qualifying dominance is a focus ahead of his eleventh Formula One season.

“Seb’s clearly going to be performing at a good level again, and he’s not going to be lifting off,” he said.

“If Seb’s dominating that pole position, it gives him a very strong position to tee the race up, so he needs to drop the consistency of that. If I can put myself in that front position and get to that first pit stop first, that makes things a lot easier within our own little battle. It still might not be enough to win the race as McLaren might be 30 seconds down the road, but in terms of racing amongst ourselves, we know how it works within the team. If that’s good enough to be ahead of everyone else, then happy days.”

In an expansive interview with ‘Keeping Track’, Webber spoke about Red Bull’s performance in pre-season testing, the challenges of building up a fitness base ahead of the longest season in F1 history, how off-season rule changes will affect this year’s racing, and plenty more.

You can listen to the complete podcast here:

‘Keeping Track’ is the official podcast of the 2012 Formula 1 Australian Grand Prix. Hosted by renowned motorsport journalists Stuart Sykes and Matt Clayton, the podcast returns for a second year in 2012, and will feature interviews with a host of key Formula One and MotoGP names at regular intervals throughout the season.

You can subscribe to the podcast for free through iTunes or through the RSS feed at the Australian Grand Prix’s official website.

[Image via Mandoga Media]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.