Home boys relish opportunity to shine on home soil

Dazniel Ricciardo and Mark Webber will fly the Ausia flag on home soil
Dazniel Ricciardo and Mark Webber will fly the Ausia flag on home soil

The Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix is just days away, but Australia’s Mark Webber says inconclusive pre-season testing in Spain has made picking a winner for the first race of the new season more difficult than ever.

The 36-year-old Webber, who will compete in his 12th Grand Prix on home soil this weekend, told the Australian Grand Prix’s ‘Keeping Track’ podcast that Red Bull is just one of a handful of teams with the ability to win Sunday’s 58-lap race at Albert Park.

“It’s difficult to read, and in general we do have some quick teams, there’s no question about it,” Webber said. “Mercedes can certainly pull a single lap out that’s pretty strong. Ferrari will definitely be there and they’ll be challenging for victories, as will Red Bull, as will Lotus, as will McLaren. But as the course of the season goes on, I think that will close down a little bit and the teams that are more organised and develop well will be stronger.”

Mark Webber with fans
Mark Webber with fans during a grand prix build up event in Sydney

Webber’s compatriot Daniel Ricciardo will compete in his second Australian Grand Prix this weekend after finishing ninth on his Albert Park debut for Scuderia Toro Rosso 12 months ago, and the 23-year-old told ‘Keeping Track’ that his number one goal will be finishing ahead of French teammate Jean-Eric Vergne on Sunday.

“Points and ahead of my teammate would be a decent start to the season,” Ricciardo said. “The perfect start would be on the podium, but I think I’d be pleased if I do get more than one point and he’s behind me.”

The West Australian finished 18th in the drivers’ standings in 2012, and has his eyes set on a big improvement this year.

Daniel Ricciardo wants to score points at home
Daniel Ricciardo wants to score points at home

“It’s great being a Formula One driver and all the rest of it, but I’ve got to the point now where it’s not really enough just being on the grid,” he said. “I don’t think I could run midfield for an eternity and be satisfied – I definitely want to start getting some strong results and making a good impression.”

In the event week episode of ‘Keeping Track’, Webber and Ricciardo offered their views on the relevance of pre-season testing in the northern hemisphere winter, while Ricciardo spoke about his recent random drug test in the lead-up to the Australian Grand Prix.

Australia’s Alan Jones, the 1980 Formula One world champion for Williams, also spoke to ‘Keeping Track’ to offer his predictions for the season ahead while reflecting on the bronze busts of himself and fellow Australian F1 world champion Sir Jack Brabham set to be unveiled at Albert Park this weekend. (grandprix.com.au)