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Mark Webber: News

Webber's stock 'has suffered' in 2005

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Mark Webber admits his reputation has suffered during a frustrating year with Williams, but still believes he is on course to become a grand prix winner.

The Australian was given his big break in the sport when Sir Frank Williams poached him from the under-performing Jaguar team at the end of last season.

That was expected to open the floodgates after several seasons battling with poor cars, with wins and world titles predicted, but a season of strife has put those ambitions on hold.

Webber concedes his reputation has taken a hit, even though he scored his first podium in Monaco, but the 29-year-old's racing career has been a battle against the odds and he expects to come out on top in the end.

"My stock has suffered for sure," he said in Shanghai ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend. "It's not as good as it was when I left Jaguar.

"But that is how the game is. Felipe Massa's stock wasn't that good when he left Sauber \[in 2002\] - now it is and he's going to Ferrari.

"Next year if you win two races you are a legend but you are still the same guy - you have still got the same underwear on.

"Of course it's been a frustrating year. We expected to have a lot stronger results but it has proved to be very tough for us.

"Renault and McLaren are the form teams, they are the strong teams. In the end we haven't been the form operation and we hope we will be next year."

The straight-talking former Jaguar and Minardi driver has no doubts over his ability to challenge Formula One's top names though.

Webber is convinced he can stand on the top step of the podium if he is given the right equipment, saying: "I can race at the front, no doubt about it.

"Winning races is one thing, winning a championship is another. A championship is a very hard thing to put together, I'm sure it is, that's why they only hand out one a year.

"Winning races is something I am very confident I can do in the future."

Webber has outscored team-mate Nick Heidfeld by six points this season - helped by the German's recent injury absence - but he has found the 19-race campaign an arduous one.

He added: "I think it's been okay. I've had a few ups and downs, a few different frustrations here and there because I was of course disappointed where we were.

"But it's been a very long, long season for me personally and for the team as well. Whether we got the best out of Mark Webber this year we don't know but hopefully next year we will be stronger.

"This game is so fickle. People say Michael Schumacher is over it, what a load of rubbish - the car for him hasn't been that good and the tyres haven't been that good.

"So Michael hasn't done well this year but I used to race Kimi Raikkonen sometimes last year when I was in the Jaguar and his McLaren was a slow car. Now it's a better car and he's one and a half seconds down the road. I am losing no sleep over that at all."

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