Championship leader Mark Webber has denied that the forthcoming Belgian and Italian Grands Prix will be a case of damage limitation for him, despite the tracks' long straights potentially being a weak point for his Red Bull-Renault package.
Last year, low-key results at this point of the season – and at Monza in particular – cost Red Bull's title challenge crucial momentum. But while Webber acknowledged that his squad had limited expectations for the next two races, he was optimistic that it would fare better than in 2009.
"Always when you are running medium downforce on these cars, it's for a reason," said Webber. "And that reason is long straights. We know that it's not a strength of the car and hasn't been for quite a few years and we know why. But we work incredibly hard to make the car strong in other areas and when we go to those venues obviously we are strong.
"We can still keep up at these tracks, but whether we have an advantage remains to be seen. We still weren't uncompetitive in Montreal, but we weren't the pacesetters as we were in some other venues. I think if we had to have 17 races in a championship, we wouldn't choose Spa and Monza to have races at, but it's part of the calendar and we have to make the car quick everywhere."
He pointed out that Red Bull had also struggled in Valencia last season, but was victorious on the Spanish street course this year.
"We were worried about Valencia, and Sebastian [Vettel] won the race," said Webber. "Last year were very poor in Valencia and got blown away, but this year we were quick. Let's see how the top speeds are tomorrow in sector one and sector three and see where people are pitched.
"It's going to be interesting for the next two events. At Monza, there's a lot less that you can do, it is probably the worst track for cars that are strong in corners but not particularly strong in straights."
Webber, whose championship lead is just four points over Lewis Hamilton, added that he might have to drive with the title in mind more often in the coming races, as he could not afford to take unnecessary risks or gambles.
"Finishing is certainly something that you think of," he said. "With this points system, you need to finish, so consistency is important. That's something you sign up for straight away because you don't want to win races but have non-finishes. You have to capitalize on the days when you are not potentially going to win to get the next best thing, whatever that may be.
"That comes down to reliability, the decisions made – when you roll the dice as a midfield team you take a gamble but for us, McLaren and Ferrari there are obviously bigger things at stake. You have to be mindful of the fact that you might not get anything out of it so you need to realize that four points is better than none and gambling."