Mark Webber has exceeded all of Red Bull Racing's expectations this season, and has every chance of ending the season as World Champion. So says his team principal Christian Horner, who believes that Webber has come of age in 2010 to perform at a level that even he never predicted.
"I think Mark has exceeded all of our, including his own, expectations, in what he has delivered this year," said Horner ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix. "He has driven phenomenally well. He has a huge challenge with the teammate he has and it is a great situation for the team to have two drivers at different stages of their career.
"Mark is 34, and Sebastian [Vettel] is more than 10 years younger. It is a different dynamic and a different approach in many respects, but I think Mark has driven extremely well this year and the two of them have been so evenly matched on different occasions."
Horner believes that Webber's step forward is the result of the confidence he gained from taking his maiden victory in Germany last year.
"It was a big moment for him," said Horner. "His confidence has grown significantly from that point. As a grand prix winner, he truly believed in his ability and his opportunity this year – as does Sebastian, and that is what makes it such an exciting pairing."
He added: "Mark hasn't really changed in himself but as a driver he has evolved and I think he is like a good wine – he has gotten better with age. This year he has had a phenomenal season and has been driving fantastically well."
When asked whether he believed that Webber had exactly the same chance of winning the championship as Vettel, Horner said: "The points difference is minimal, and in the old scoring it is two or three points.
"This applies to Lewis [Hamilton], Jenson [Button] and Fernando [Alonso] too, but it is so close between the five of them that whoever strings a few results together over the next seven races could make all the difference."