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Local hero Webber fends off retirement talk 26 Mar 2010

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 25 March 2010 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 25 March 2010 (L to R): Norbert Haug (GER) Mercedes Sporting Director with Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing and Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 25 March 2010 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 2, Australian Grand Prix, Preparations, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, 25 March 2010

Mark Webber was a trifle bemused at Albert Park on Thursday to find himself having to take time out from his focus on winning for Red Bull in his homeland to fend off rumours of possible retirement at the end of the year.

Sources quoted rival Lewis Hamilton as saying he thought Webber might consider quitting Formula One racing at the end of 2010, if he were able to land this season’s drivers’ championship. Webber, however, insists he has no such thoughts right now.

“I’m very motivated, enjoying my job and looking forward to a great season, it is the way I have approached every year," the 33 year-old Australian said. "I have no intention of retiring, give or take whatever season I have."

The 33 year-old from Queanbean said that he wasn’t bothered by Hamilton's reported comments. "It’s Lewis' opinion and he is free to have it and I don't have a problem with what he said. I’m happy driving for the guys I’m driving for, it’s a good situation and I’m looking forward to it."

Hamilton also suggested recently that the Red Bull currently has a significant aerodynamic advantage over everyone, and that they have built on their strength at the end of 2009. Jenson Button generally agreed, but he said: “We did not go to Bahrain with the right levels of downforce. The new section of track that was used turned it into a track where you need Monaco levels of downforce, which means the maximum, and we were not geared for that. That cost us time there.”

Meanwhile, reflecting on the faulty spark plug electrode that cost him victory in Bahrain, where he should have won comfortably, Sebastian Vettel said: “It doesn't really mean a lot being in front of Nico (Rosberg) and Michael (Schumacher) at the finish if you could have won the race ahead of the Ferraris and the McLarens. Our target was to win and I think we were in a very good way, but in the end sometimes shit happens. Apart from that it is only positives, as I said. At any time I think we were at the top of our game, controlling the car, controlling tyres, managing the brakes. So it did look very good.”

Both Button and Hamilton believe their McLarens will be more competitive here. “I hope I’m not dreaming, saying that!” Button said with a laugh. “We are better prepared here, and it is not a high-downforce circuit.”

“It should play to the strengths of our car,” Hamilton said, referring to Albert Park. “We feel stronger coming in to this race and hopefully we can get more points - for myself and Jenson. We do have a chance of winning this weekend. And hopefully we’ll be able to get that edge.”

Down at Ferrari and Mercedes, the moods remain upbeat. “For sure we got off to a good start, and believe that we can be strong here,” Fernando Alonso told reporters. “It feels good that we are competitive at the start of the season.”

And Michael Schumacher reiterated: “I am very happy with the outcome of the season opener in Bahrain. Sixth position was good for me, especially considering how few times I have driven an F1 car since my retirement. I am sure that Melbourne will help me to get into the rhythm even more.”

“I do not think he will be where he was in Bahrain all season,” Alonso said. “I expect a very strong Michael all year.”

David Tremayne