Mark Webber signs new one-year Red Bull deal

Mark Webber has extended his contract with the Red Bull team to the end of the 2012 season.

Webber, 35 on Saturday, had been mulling his future but says he wants to race for at least another year.

The Australian said: "I still think I'm driving well and the team is performing to a very high level. I enjoy racing against these guys at the front and I'd miss that a lot.

And he said he felt Red Bull's team orders controversies were behind them.

Webber was uncomfortable throughout his attempt to win the 2010 championship, believing that Red Bull were favouring his team-mate Sebastian Vettel.

There were a number of flashpoints throughout last season and the issue re-emerged at the British Grand Prix last month, when Webber was ordered by team principal Christian Horner not to challenge Vettel for second place during the closing laps.

But Webber said on Saturday: "Everything's fine with that now. You know I wouldn't be super-happy if it wasn't like that."

ANDREW BENSON ANALYSIS

Mark Webber has kept everyone guessing this summer, but staying at Red Bull is the obvious move. He still loves racing at the front and is competitive again after his early-season struggles. His main concern was the team's obvious preference for Sebastian Vettel. The suspicion is Webber has been given some reassurances things will be more equitable now.

That suggests he may have received some form of guarantee that he and Vettel will be allowed to race without intervention in the future.

Webber also had to weigh up offers from other teams not as competitive as Red Bull.

In a team statement, Webber said: "I want to continue racing at the top in F1 so it's a no-brainer to remain at Red Bull for another year.

"My motivation to achieve the best results possible for both myself and the team is still very high."

Next year will be Webber's fourth at Red Bull alongside world champion Vettel, and his sixth overall with the team he joined from Williams in 2007.

"Over the past five years, we have worked hard and proved that we can design and build a competitive and championship-winning car, and I'm looking forward to putting the car and myself on the limit again each and every race weekend in 2012," he said.

Webber came close to winning the title last season, leading the championship for much of the season, but ended up third behind Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

He is second to Vettel in this year's championship ahead of Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix, but is 85 points behind the German.

Webber struggled to get to grips with this year's new Pirelli tyres as quickly as Vettel, who won five of the first seven races.

WEBBER'S CHAMPIONSHIP FINISHES

  • 2010: 3rd (Red Bull)
  • 2009: 4th (Red Bull)
  • 2008: 11th (Red Bull)
  • 2007: 12th (Red Bull)
  • 2006: 14th (Williams)
  • 2005: 10th (Williams)
  • 2004: 13th (Jaguar)
  • 2003: 10th (Jaguar)
  • 2002: 16th (Minardi)

Team principal Christian Horner said: "When we sat down and started talking about 2012, it was immediately obvious that Mark and the team wanted to continue our successful relationship.

"This meant agreeing an extension for 2012 was very straightforward.

"Mark knows the team well, having been with us since 2007, and his motivation, fitness and commitment is as high as it has ever been.

"The pairing of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel is a very strong one, they push each other hard and we are extremely happy the pairing will remain unchanged for a fourth season."

Webber's decision to continue means four drivers are contesting two seats in Red Bull's feeder team, Toro Rosso.

Incumbents Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi are under pressure from Australian Daniel Ricciardo, who Red Bull have placed at lowly HRT, and Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne.

Vergne has no F1 experience as yet, but he will be given a chance to run in first-practice sessions for the team towards the end of this season, as BBC Sport revealed on Friday.

Team principal Franz Tost told BBC Sport on Saturday that it had not yet been decided exactly which race Vergne would make his debut at.

He added that Red Bull would not decide until the end of the season which drivers would make up Toro Rosso's roster next year.