Webber vows to challenge champion teammate Vettel in 2012

Australian driver Mark Webber has been with the Britain-based Red Bull team for five seasons.

Story highlights

  • Mark Webber wants to challenge teammate Sebastian Vettel for the F1 world championship
  • Webber watched as Vettel became F1's youngest double world champion last season
  • The 2012 season begins with Webber's home grand prix in Australia on March 18
  • The 35-year-old's contract with Red Bull expires at the end of this season

Mark Webber could have been forgiven for feeling like a guest at someone else's party during the 2011 Formula One season, looking on as his Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel charged to a second consecutive world championship.

The Australian finished third in the drivers' standings -- a massive 135 points behind his German teammate after winning just one race all year, at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.

The 35-year-old, who is entering the final year of his Red Bull contract, wants to push on from November's victory and challenge for a first drivers' championship when the new season begins next month.

"I had a pretty strong finish last season but unfortunately it was not the best of starts," Webber, who is entering his 11th season in the elite division of motorsport, told the official F1 website.

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"So for 2012 I want to have a good start, keep it together in the middle part and have a good finish. And then let's count up the points."

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Webber watched as Vettel won 11 of 19 grands prix last year to become F1's youngest double world champion.

The former Williams driver is convinced the championship will be closer in 2012, with rival teams Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes all looking to reign in back-to-back constructors' champions Red Bull.

"We know that Mercedes need to win races this year, Ferrari would like to win races this year, McLaren want to win and we want to win. So let's go to Melbourne to find out.

"Last year it was never just the two Red Bull drivers. It's true Sebastian had a fantastic season last year, but in 2010 everything was much closer. And I think it is the goal to bring it back to that at least."

For the second year running the season will begin with Webber's home grand prix in Australia. He has yet to win in Melbourne, with his best result being fifth in 2005 and 2011.

"Irrespective of where the first race is, I want to win it and I am really excited to start the season," he said.

"Sure there is a bit more tension at the home race, but in the car you do your thing wherever you are. I am not going to let anything distract me in Melbourne. That is the plan."

Whether 2012 will be Webber's final year with the Austrian-owned Red Bull team remains to be seen, but he is determined to focus on achieving results on the track.

"When you are in front in Formula One you are always under intense scrutiny. Every corner is analyzed. If teams don't like a driver's style or discipline it does not matter who is waiting in the wings -- you are out anyway," he said.

"Teams will always look at what's best for them as drivers are a huge part of the team. I respect that and will focus on 2012 in this fashion."