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Webber sees Ferrari as Red Bull’s best bet

“Red Bull want to win.

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They have won a lot in the past… and their patience now is obviously over. And they want to change,” the Australian driver, who left Red Bull and Formula One at the end of 2013 after winning nine grands prix, told Reuters on Friday.

“So, yeah, it looks like Ferrari and Red Bull Racing believe that’s their best option,” he added in an interview to publicise the British publication of his book ‘Aussie Grit: My Formula One Journey’.

“Renault are probably frustrated and Red Bull haven’t got time to wait. The end result is that they won’t work together any more.”

Red Bull, winners of four drivers’ and constructors’ championships in a row between 2010 and 2013, have been eclipsed by Mercedes since the introduction last year of the new V6 turbo hybrid power units.

Renault’s lack of performance has led to the relationship being pushed to breaking point, with the French manufacturer now assessing whether to buy Lotus or depart while Red Bull sound out alternatives.

While dominant champions Mercedes have seemingly ruled out supplying them, and Honda are struggling with both performance and reliability, Ferrari have made clear they are more than willing to step in.

Ferrari provided engines to Red Bull in 2006 and Red Bull-owned Toro Rosso between 2007 and 2013 and Webber said the likely return to Italian engines could put the team back on the fast track.

“Can they go directly back into fighting for wins? You could argue yes,” he said, pointing out that his former team mate Sebastian Vettel had won for Toro Rosso at Monza in 2008.

Vettel is now at Ferrari, with Australian Daniel Ricciardo and Russian Daniil Kvyat in the Red Bull overalls.

BUTTON ADVICE

Now enjoying a new career in Le Mans sportscars with Porsche, the 39-year-old felt sure McLaren’s Jenson Button was going through some of the thought processes he experienced before calling time on Formula One.

Button, the 2009 world champion and second oldest driver on the grid at 35, has been the subject of speculation about his future with his Honda-powered team struggling on track and younger drivers hungry for his seat.

McLaren, who have both double world champion Fernando Alonso and Button under contract, also want to find seats for Denmark’s Kevin Magnussen and rising Belgian star Stoffel Vandoorne.

“JB has had a lot more success than I have but I was very keen to finish running through the tape instead of going towards the tape,” said Webber.

“When you get older does it get any easier? No it does not,” continued the Australian.

“It just does not. I don’t care who you are. There’s a few freaks, absolute freaks. There’s two – Valentino Rossi (in motor cycling) and Roger Federer (in tennis). But it takes a toll. So for sure he’s got questions in his head right now.

“He’d enjoy sportscars and we’d welcome him with open arms,” added the Australian. “But if he elects to stay (in F1) a bit longer then they (McLaren) might pull a rabbit out of the hat next year and punch where they should be punching.”

Webber, whose book charts his journey against the odds from Queanbeyan in New South Wales to Formula One, came close to winning the title in 2010 only to lose out to Vettel at the final race.

The following season was tough mentally and Webber suggested Germany’s Nico Rosberg was enduring something similar this season after losing out to Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton last year.

“The year after (coming close) is probably the hardest. In my personal opinion it was,” said Webber, who partnered Rosberg in an unhappy spell at Williams.

“Lewis is completely on fire at the moment with how the cars are now and next year is going to be a tall order for Nico to get the high ground.

“Lewis is going to finish the end of the year as a three-times world champion and then it’s in his court to keep that drive and hunger going.”

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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