Mark Webber says he is confident that the "reset button" has been set for his World Championship fight with teammate Sebastian Vettel next year, thanks to him benefiting from some tough growing pains he went through with Red Bull Racing chiefs in 2010. And, he says he has no regrets about keeping the truth about his shoulder injury from the team at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Following a sometimes fraught battle with Vettel during this year, which often put the Australian in direct conflict with team management, Webber reckons that he and the outfit are now much better placed to make the most of their opportunities next season. In an interview with BBC radio, Webber said there were plenty of positives that came out of the 2010 season, despite those difficult flash points.
"A lot of things happened this year which were new for the team," explained Webber. "Sebastian is now World Champion and I need to get in position where I can try and race and beat him as often as I can again. And that comes with Jenson [Button], Lewis [Hamilton], Fernando [Alonso], all the normal suspects who will be there.
"The reset button has been hit. We have some new regulations to get on top of. I was clearly in a position to do something very, very unique and the fairy tale was not there. But there are a lot of positives for me to go into a fresh season fully charged and have a crack. I have a great team of people around me and that is what we will aim to do."
Webber endured some fairly tense moments with Red Bull Racing chiefs in 2010 – including expressing his frustration at the emotional favoritism he felt they had for Vettel, plus venting his fury at the front wing situation that occurred at the British Grand Prix. Those moments of tension prompted speculation that Webber could leave the team, but the Australian made it clear that such a thought never crossed his mind. Instead, he reckoned it was important he got his frustrations out into the open with the team to put him in better stead for 2011.
"I never thought about actually going somewhere else," he said. "I knew I had to sort things out within my own operation there. As I've said quite a few times, the team and myself, we all learned a lot this year about how to go racing consistently at the front and at that level.
"Ferrari and McLaren have had their tears with two competitive drivers, and I am not talking about Lewis [Hamilton] and Fernando [Alonso] a few years ago. Ferrari has been around for 50 years, Red Bull for five minutes, so we learned a lot this year. And I knew as a team we could go through growing pains this year and go forward from it.
"So it never went through my mind that I needed to go somewhere else. And the team? I suppose their reaction at the time was harsh because the team had done such a good job to give us both a good chance to do really, really well – and when something like that happens it is very, very rare, which is why it got the reaction it did."
The situation between Webber and the team was not helped by the Australian revealing after the season that he picked up a fractured shoulder for the final races of the season after suffering a mountain bike accident in the week before the Japanese GP. He never told the team about the matter, something team principal Christian Horner admitted left him "disappointed." However, Webber has stuck by his decision to keep silent about the matter, and thinks the shoulder injury story was a storm in a teacup.
"I think it was absolutely the right thing to do," he said about his decision to keep quiet. "In a competitive environment it is hard enough as it is – and then people would try to understand why it happened, what has he got, what is he going through? People will ask you questions; there were enough questions and interrogations as there was.
"So, for me to go quiet on it, I took a stance. I said to my closest people, 'This is as far as it is going, if it goes any further...'
"For the team, I was nervous if it was going to affect my performances, but then the team would have picked that up anyway and then I would have told them about it. For Christian...sometimes a little bit of information is dangerous. He had a lot of stuff on his plate and to throw it on him at that stage...
"It is easy to say now it would have been great to let people know, but the best tactic was to not let anyone know. It is not like a trust [issue]; it is not a breaking down in the trust in any relationship. It is like in a boxing ring – if you had something sore, why would you let anyone know you are not on the top game? Which I was anyway?"
Webber has also said he is open-minded about his F1 future beyond this year – although he did say that one team every driver would like to sign for was Ferrari.
"I will take each year as it comes. I am focusing on the next race," he said. "Contract time always comes around and you either want it or you do not. I want to want to do it, to be hungry, motivated and determined to compete.
"Last year went well and I hope I can do the same next year. Let's see what happens in 2012. What is important is finishing on top of your game. I don't want to be beaten by guys I don't think I should be."