Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

Formula One title still up for grabs, says Mark Webber

Mark Webber
Mark Webber

Championship leader Mark Webber has refused to accept he is the favourite for the drivers' title as the Formula One season heads into its closing stages.

The Red Bull driver has moved to the brink of his first ever world championship after a fine campaign that has seen him take four wins, but with just an 11-point gap to second-placed man Fernando Alonso, is aware there is no room for complacency.

Four drivers are still capable of denying Webber the title, and this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix could see caution thrown to the wind, with McLaren duo Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton and Webber's team-mate Sebastian Vettel all desperate to outscore the Australian.

Webber suffered a major let-off in Singapore two weeks ago when he sealed a podium finish despite a collision with Hamilton, but he has warned his championship lead will quickly evaporate if his luck runs out at the famous Suzuka circuit.

Sunday’s race is poised to deliver yet more twists in this enthralling campaign with heavy rain forecast for tomorrow, and Webber believes too many variables remain in play for him to be viewed above his rivals.

“I'm not the favourite,” said Webber. “I think we're all pretty even at the moment.

“It can all change pretty quickly, in a good way for me and in a bad way for me.

“It's on a knife-edge but I'm very, very relaxed. It's another race for me, just go out there and do my best. I'll leave nothing, leave no change on the table, and the points will look after themselves.

“There's four races to go and you need to lead the championship at the end, not now.”

Despite enjoying a decent cushion to his nearest rival, Webber insists he will not playing the percentages between now and the final race in Abu Dhabi on November 14.

“I have a bit of scope but I'm certainly not looking to abuse that advantage because it can go very, very fast.”

Webber's team-mate Vettel, who won at Suzuka from pole position last season, believes the title race is entering a make-or-break phase.

“With less and less races to go, every single race becomes more crucial,” the German said.

“It could be that you make a step in the right direction or it could mean the end of your title hunt.”

For reigning champion Button, meanwhile, the equation for this weekend is quite simple.

“I need a podium, and to finish in front of Mark, that's the minimum really,” said Button, who is the lowest placed of the remaining title candidates, 25 points behind Webber.

“The big gap difference is to Mark, so to finish in front of him is the most important thing.”

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