Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner expects "straightforward" talks with Mark Webber about a contract for next year when they sit down to discuss it over the next few months, revealing that the Australian has told the team he wants to remain on board in 2012.
Webber has been on a rolling year-by-year contract at Red Bull Racing, and both team and driver have said they are in no rush to discuss their future plans before finalising what to do about next season. However, ahead of the Canadian Grand Prix, Horner said that the team had had the first indication from Webber that the Australian was eager to extend his career in F1 with the squad.
"When we decide to sit down and talk about it we will do so," said Horner when asked about the timescale of contract talks with Webber. "We have only completed six grands prix out of probably 19, so probably some time a little bit later in the summer we will sit down and discuss next year. Mark has made it clear that he wants to drive next year, and conversations with Mark tend to be quite straightforward."
Horner acknowledged that Webber's form this season has been affected by him struggling to adapt to the new Pirelli tires as well as teammate Sebastian Vettel, but he has no overall worries about what the Australian is delivering on track.
"Mark on points has had the best start to an F1 campaign to date," he said. "He has obviously struggled with the Pirellis more than Seb, and he is working hard to get to grips with that. But he is still a fierce competitor and he is still pushing very, very hard – as we saw in Barcelona a few weeks ago where he achieved his first pole position.
"As far as the future is concerned, we agree to take things one step at a time and at the appropriate time we will sit down and talk about the future."
When asked why the talks about a contract would not take place until later in the campaign, Horner said: "There are obviously several factors. But at the end of the day it is down to the team and Mark to decide if they want to continue that relationship, and we just wanted to see whether he has still got the motivation and desire that he clearly has.
"He has had these issues with the tires that he is working hard to get on top of, but we are very happy with him in the team."