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Reading between Webber's lines

Far too much of the Formula 1 media these days is headline-based and that often leads to people being led astray. Joe Saward writes.

india Updated: May 08, 2012 00:18 IST
Joe Saward
Joe Saward,Formula 1,Mark Webber

Far too much of the Formula 1 media these days is headline-based and that often leads to people being led astray. Because many modern Internet writers have no proper journalistic training, they do not always understand the significance of things that they hear. A very good example of this is the story that Mark Webber might go to Ferrari in 2013. You may have read stories saying that Webber has denied that he is off to Maranello.

The latest rumours began in the Spanish press where it was reported that "although his contract with the Italian team is not signed yet, he may have already established a preliminary agreement to join the team in 2013". The article quoted an anonymous source close to the dealings, saying: "It's done".

As a result Webber was asked about the stories when he turned up to test in Mugello. Italy.

"There's a whole season ahead of us before we need to think about the future," he said. "One day the talk is about Jenson [Button], then it's Sergio [Perez], now it's me. I haven't signed anything. My focus is on this team. We have had a good start to the season, we're only four races down and the road is very, very long before we start talking about the future."

Between the lines
If you take it apart he is clearly NOT denying anything in the Spanish story. And yet dozens of "Webber denies Ferrari link" stories followed.

Look at what Webber actually said. There is no need to think about the future. OK, but that does not mean he is not doing that. In recent years Ferrari has had a habit of doing its deals well in advance. Kimi Raikkonen had a conditional Ferrari deal in his pocket for 18 months before he joined the team and Alonso had a similar deal for 2010, which was agreed in 2008.

Webber did NOT say that he was not talking to Ferrari. He did not say that he did not have a conditional agreement.

The result of all this Webber told no lies, but we still do not know whether he is going to Ferrari or not.

Ferrari a good fit
Every driver, no matter what they say, wants to drive for Ferrari. The team needs a stronger World Championship challenge and in order to have that it needs two drivers who are capable of winning races and scoring points on a regular basis.

At the same time Ferrari does not want a driver who will rattle Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard did not respond well to that sort of pressure when McLaren tried it with Fernando and Lewis Hamilton back in 2007. It helps that Mark and Alonso are friends and clearly respect one another.

The reason that Webber is the obvious choice for Ferrari is because he knows how to be a competitive number two driver. He had his chance of glory in 2010 and it did not work out, but he still keeps Sebastian Vettel honest. I think we will see Webber wearing red next year.

The writer has covered every grand prix for the last 25 years.

First Published: May 08, 2012 00:07 IST