A RELAXED MARK Webber is approaching his home Grand Prix at Albert Park this weekend just the same as any other race.
The Australian Red Bull driver is under immense pressure to perform in front of his home fans every time he lines up in Melbourne and has struggled to cope with the expectations in recent seasons.
Webber’s best finish at Albert Park is fifth, and the 35-year-old is trying to stay as calm as possible heading into the Formula One season-opener on Sunday.
“Trying to keep it as normal a race as possible for me is the key,” Webber said. ”We can do a phenomenal amount of interviews and requests because everyone’s very keen for that two-week period, but at the end of the day it’s about trying to keep it as a normal Grand Prix.
“Go down there, get the job done, get the most out of myself, work with the guys and make sure I’m in a very good frame of mind mentally to put my best foot forward to try to win the race.
“We can talk a lot about it but we need to get on the track.”
Webber is on the third line of betting to win the Australian Grand Prix, with Red Bull team-mate and reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel the bookmakers’ favourite to claim the chequered flag. But Webber is confident of success and believes he can come out on top if he can claim pole position during Saturday’s qualifying session.
“If Seb’s dominating that pole position, it gives him a very strong position to tee the race up, so he needs to drop the consistency off that,” Webber said. ”If I can put myself in that position and get to that first pit-stop first, that makes things a lot easier within our own little battle.”
While Vettel is the man to beat on Sunday and again for this year’s world championship, Webber did receive a glowing show of support from F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone. Ecclestone is tipping Vettel to win a third straight world title, but believes Webber has the capabilities to challenge him.
“I think Mark will if anybody does, and I really think Sebastian would like Mark to win the title if he can’t win it again himself,” Ecclestone said. ”I spoke to Mark and he’s really motivated now. I told him Sebastian is quick, you just have to be quicker and keep your head down.”