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Webber again plays down retirement talk
The season may not have started but already Mark Webber is already facing the same old questions over his future at Red Bull which increasingly dominated the second half of 2011.
Webber, who had consistently refused to commit to when he would retire, told the Sunday Age that he was not contemplating quitting at the end of the 2012 season and said he was refreshed and ready for the coming campaign.
"Not at all, you know, I've been through enough on and off the track to know that nothing is forever," he told the paper. "I was supposed to be replaced by Kimi [Raikkonen] four years ago."
He admitted that things had not gone according to plan last year. "Yeah it was a tough start to the year I think, that makes it difficult to roll out of that mid-season and come to [the end] ... but, again, it's those old lessons of operating at this level, you know you just have no choice, you've just got to get back on the horse, mate, and get on with it."
But he said he felt really refreshed after a winter break. "This was a real first nice winter, saying, like, let's pull it all together and come back refreshed. You just feel refreshed, that's the most important thing.
"Every sportsman or woman when you have a 10-, 12-year career there is absolute moments where you do the travel we do, this is an international sport, your energy levels get tested."
The emergence of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo - both tipped as possible replacements for him - has only served to fuel the reports that Red Bull may replace him
Asked whether Ricciardo driving for Toro Rosso signalled the start of more Australians coming into the sport, Webber said while it would generate more interest that did not necessarily mean more drivers.
"I think what could and will happen is that when you have Australians winning and if Daniel goes on to have a good career, which I have no doubt that he will, it stimulates more people to have a crack at it but it won't be made any easier in many ways. I still think you'll have to be trying very hard."