Motorsport: Webber upbeat about Red Bull chances

Mark Webber says his Red Bull team made vital errors in Melbourne last weekend. Photo / AP
Mark Webber says his Red Bull team made vital errors in Melbourne last weekend. Photo / AP

Mark Webber believes his Red Bull team will close on McLaren at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix if they can eliminate two errors which hindered them in Melbourne.

McLaren dominated qualifying for the season-opening Australian GP, and although Jenson Button won the race, Webber believes Red Bull remains the standout challenger.

The home favourite managed fourth behind Button, with Webber's Red Bull world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel an admirable second from sixth on the grid and Button's teammate Lewis Hamilton third.

McLaren's one-two in qualifying, led by Hamilton, hinted they would end Red Bull's two-year Formula One dominance - but Webber says vital errors were made by his team.

According to the Australian, his car's lack of KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) during qualifying and mistakes from Vettel, also on Saturday, relegated them back on the grid.

"At the front, it was a bit of a role-reversal from last year in many ways," Webber said.

"McLaren were very quick in qualifying on Saturday, while they and my Red Bull Racing team were much more evenly matched in the race on Sunday.

"KERS power-boost system was not working in qualifying and my teammate Sebastian Vettel made a couple of mistakes on his laps.

"However, even then I don't think we'd have been able to match the McLaren times."

Webber believes that, although McLaren began the season in a blaze, the Australian race showed Red Bull was the major threat.

"Pace-wise everything turned out as we expected," he said. "It was a reasonably even affair. But we had very poor track position and needed to recover before we could have a crack at the McLarens.

"McLaren put together the most complete performance last weekend, but we all know nothing is forever."

Webber said the lack of overtaking opportunities at Albert Park left him frustrated in fourth behind Hamilton.

"Jenson Button was untouchable in the lead, but Seb managed to get past Lewis Hamilton into second place, with the help of the safety-car period."

Webber believes he drove well in Melbourne but especially enjoys the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, where he also expects Lotus to be a contender.

"Malaysia is quite an aerodynamically demanding track and the Lotus looks good in that area, so I'd also expect a challenge from Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean in Sepang," he said.

Meanwhile, Webber's compatriot Daniel Ricciardo will be out to build on the two points he received for his ninth place finish in Melbourne.

Ricciardo has managed to win the first round against his Toro Rosso teammate Jean-Eric Vergne and aims to continue his success to retain an F1 seat in 2013.

"I think if I have a really good year I agree there should be a seat for me in 2013," Ricciardo said.

"It could be at STR [Toro Rosso], it could be at Red Bull, it could be anywhere. It's something I see that's a long way away and I haven't spent any thought into it."

- AAP

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