Tuesday, 10 July 2012
Mark Webber can go all the way and win this year's Formula One world championship, according to Australian motorsport great Alan Jones.
Webber claimed his second win of the season at Silverstone on the weekend to move within 13 points of championship leader Fernando Alonso, and 1980 F1 champion Jones says there's no reason why the 35-year-old can't go on to claim the title.
"I think Mark's bounced back really well," Jones told AAP on Tuesday.
"Everybody thought he'd had his chance a couple of years ago and he'd missed the boat.
"I think he's in with a chance with it this year. It looks like Red Bull and Ferrari are the ones that are making the progress and Red Bull moreso than Ferrari."
Jones said speculation over Webber's future at Red Bull, with team boss Christian Horner saying in the wake of the Australian's British Grand Prix win that there was no rush to seal a new deal.
Webber has been linked with a move to Ferrari but Jones believes he'll stay with the English-based Red Bull team, especially after victories at Monaco and Silverstone have propelled him ahead of teammate and defending world champion Sebastian Vettel in the championship standings.
"A couple of months ago, depending on his progress, I would've said maybe look at Ferrari because a fresh start and, getting towards the end of his career rather than the beginning of it, it's always good to get on your CV that you're an ex-Ferrari driver," Jones said.
"I think Red Bull have made some ground. They're getting back to where they were last year in terms of dominance.
"Red Bull would be silly to let him go and he'd be wise to stay where he is. They look to be making some progress now, he's got a much better understanding of the tyres and I think he's getting more out of the car.
"I think he's just put himself in a far better bargaining position after the weekend."
Jones also believes Webber can continue on past 2013 despite constant speculation over when he might retire.
"How old's Schumacher now? 40-odd," Jones said.
"Mark's as fit, if not fitter, than any driver out there. It's all a mind game really. If he's got the drive and he's got the hunger? He's certainly got the speed and the fitness, so there's no reason he can't go on for quite a while yet."