Mark Webber has played down suggestions he might struggle to match the strong pace of his highly-rated young teammate Sebastian Vettel in 2009.

Mark Webber has played down suggestions he might struggle to match the strong pace of his highly-rated young teammate Sebastian Vettel in 2009.

Australian Webber, 32, is regarded as perhaps the quickest qualifier in the entire field, but he came nowhere close to Vettel's best lap of the Jerez test last week.

The Australian media is predicting another season in the wilderness for the Red Bull driver, but Webber - still limping following his broken leg of last November - insists his preparations are more or less on track.

Fears rose further when he commented last week that, despite Vettel's apparently front-running pace, Webber admitted he needs to "get a bit more performance" from the car.

"I feel I'm driving well," he said in an interview published on Monday by the Melbourne newspaper Herald Sun.

Webber admits he is still grappling with a less than ideal setup for the Adrian Newey-penned RB5, but he insists that analysis of test times means nothing when the pitlane opens in Melbourne.

"I've never been overly concerned about the pace because I know race weekends is when it matters," he said.

By the same token, he warns observers not to write off 2008 drivers' champion McLaren, who similarly looked off the pace at recent tests.

"You would expect McLaren maybe to have done a bit more," Webber said, "but apart from that, we all know they are more than capable of turning up in Melbourne and spanking everyone."

 

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