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Winning Mark Webber makes his case for staying in Formula One

SILVERSTONE, England: If anyone doubted Mark Webber’s desire to stay in Formula One next year, the Australian Red Bull driver made his position very clear after scorching to victory in the British Grand Prix Sunday.

Webber’s second win of the season, and second career victory at Silverstone, England, firmed up his title challenge and cut Fernando Alonso’s overall lead for Ferrari to 13 points with 11 rounds remaining.

“It helps my situation to stay in Formula One,” the 35-year-old, who is out of contract at the end of the year, told reporters. “I’m pushing to get a contract for next year. Going reasonably well, got a few points, a couple of wins and I will work very hard to try and stay in Formula One next year.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has said the two sides will sit down in the coming weeks to discuss the future but has given the impression the decision would be as much Webber’s as the team’s.

Webber’s recent contracts have been one-year extensions, agreed at around the midpoint of each season, but he has also been linked in media speculation to what could be a vacancy at Ferrari to replace Brazilian Felipe Massa.

On Sunday, with the sun shining after days of rain and traffic chaos around the rural English circuit, the Australian Red Bull driver was very much savoring the moment.

It was fitting that Jackie Stewart, the retired triple champion, should have interviewed Webber on the podium afterward since Red Bull’s racing lineage goes back through Jaguar to the Stewart team founded by the Scot in 1997.

Webber was, as Stewart surmised, a “very happy boy.”

Webber has woken up in his own bed and started the day taking his dogs for a run.

Silverstone, a short drive away from his home and from the team’s factory in Milton Keynes, has always been a circuit close to his heart.

“I love racing everywhere but here it’s extra special ... I say, I won my first race here in ’96 in a Formula Ford so the love affair continues,” he said.

Starting second on the grid, alongside Alonso, Webber had to wait until six laps before the end to make his move and dash the Spaniard’s hopes as the Ferrari’s tires lost performance.

“You’ve got to grab these ones with both hands and I was very keen to grab with both hands today,” he said. “I had a single opportunity to pounce, and I wasn’t going to let that slip.

“It was obvious that he was pushing as hard as possible but the balance wasn’t with him. That’s when you’ve got to smell the blood and you’ve got to go for it.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 10, 2012, on page 14.

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