Webber ‘fitter than ever’ after winter operation

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel pose along side the new car during the Infiniti Red Bull Racing RB9 launch  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel pose along side the new car during the Infiniti Red Bull Racing RB9 launch (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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As Mark Webber starts his seventh season with Red Bull – this time with new race engineer Simon Rennie – the Aussie driver says he’ll be fitter than ever after an ‘exceptional’ operation on his leg.

The Aston Clinton-based driver, who was injured in a mountain bike accident four years ago, has been resting after the remaining piece of metalwork – a 40cm titanium rod – was removed from his right leg in December.

Speaking this week at the unveiling of Red Bull’s 2013 car, the RB9, Webber, 36, said: “I had a few weeks off from my normal training schedule but I was able to ease myself back into it by the first week of January and now I’m back into it properly

“I didn’t really know what to expect from having it removed, apart from my own peace of mind, but I’m very happy that some of the niggles and pain I’ve sometimes experienced with my training over the past three years already seem to be a thing of the past.”

Webber’s teammate Sebastian Vettel is now in his fifth season with the Milton Keynes-based outfit – which makes the pair the longest established driver combination on the grid.

“The fact that this is my seventh season with the team is a massive advantage,” said Webber.

“I couldn’t have envisaged it when I joined and it’s hard to believe that you could be with the same Formula 1 team for seven years, as continuity is not always easy to achieve in this sport.”

“I think the way we keep people excited and motivated here is important. It’s quite a small operation, but obviously we’re big on ambition and desire and that makes us perform very well. I’ve really enjoyed the years I’ve had here so far and I can’t wait to get going this season.”

After six years with race engineer Ciaron Pilbeam, Webber is starting a new pairing with Simon Rennie.

He said: “It’s going to be important to have a solid pre-season with him after spending some six years with Ciaron, who I had a long and enjoyable relationship with, but he’s no longer with the team.

“I’m looking forward to starting the season in Australia having prepared very well for it over the past two months.

“But it’s clear there’s no point getting too far ahead of yourself, so it’s a case of taking each week, test and race as it comes.”