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Webber vows to battle Vettel for F1 title

Story highlights

  • Red Bull launches new RB9 ahead of preseason testing later this month
  • Mark Webber insists he can be a title contender this season
  • Australian watched teammate Sebastian Vettel win third crown last year
  • Team boss Christian Horner backs 36-year-old after recent in-house criticism

Mark Webber vowed to push Sebastian Vettel for the 2013 world title when their champion Red Bull team launched its new Formula One car on Sunday.

The veteran Australian has had to play second fiddle to the all-conquering Vettel in the past three seasons, despite at stages being in contention for his maiden championship.

He has had to contend with recent criticism from Red Bull's motor sport advisor Helmut Marko, who claimed the 36-year-old can't cope with the title pressure.

"I do believe I can have a crack at the championship again this year, as I have done in previous seasons," Webber told reporters at the RB9's launch at the team's English headquarters in Milton Keynes.

"That is my goal and what I think about each day when I get up, and I'm working hard with the team on doing that.

"They know I need 100% support. You cannot win a world title with only 90, you need 100, and we're going into 2013 with this in place, and I'm comfortable with that."

Mark Webber back in the go-kart

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    Mark Webber back in the go-kart

Mark Webber back in the go-kart 02:32
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Read: Webber shrugs off Red Bull tensions

Team boss Christian Horner, who signed a new multi-year contract last week, backed Webber to be a contender despite him finishing sixth overall last season -- 102 points behind his teammate.

"If we weren't happy with Mark then we would never have signed him to be with the team for this year," he said.

"We're very happy with Mark and we give both drivers equal opportunity. It's ultimately down to what they do on the circuit.

"For us, it doesn't matter which driver wins, as long as it is a driver in one of our cars. Both of these guys believe they are the best, and the team will do the very best it can to support them."

Read: Webber - F1's outsider

Vettel became the youngest driver to win three world titles as he overhauled Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in the final third of the season.

"It all starts again from zero. We've all got the same chances in what will be a tough year again with a lot of races," the 25-year-old German said.

"So I'm just looking ahead. I'm not looking back on past races because I am convinced it doesn't give you a head start or an advantage.

"Obviously, the expectations are still there, but more than that we expect ourselves to do well again, so there is a lot of pressure.

"Right now there is excitement to get back into the car, start testing, then go racing and find out where we are. It's one thing to do all the talking now, but as soon as you have the helmet on, you simply want to perform and do your best."