Mark Webber believes he must hit the ground running at the start of 2012 if he is going to be able to take the fight to Sebastian Vettel next year.
The Australian believes his title hopes this season faltered on the back of a poor opening part to the campaign, whereas Vettel won five of the opening six races. Webber thinks it vital that the situation is not repeated next year, which is why he is targeting a better winter testing program so he can build momentum ahead of the first race
"He [Vettel] had a great run at the start of the year and I wasn't really on top of everything at the start," said Webber. "Obviously, I had quite a few reliability issues as well, which is never ideal.
"In the end, I think my form has been a lot better in the last few races for sure. Unfortunately, when I got in the lead in the Nurburgring I didn't have the car to win anyway. So, it was difficult there – and Spa was probably the most frustrating race of the year in terms of being the quickest guy in the race and having to deal with a tough start to the race and then missing the safety car with a free pit stop. That happens.
"It was a missed opportunity but it was going to be very, very difficult for me to put together a championship against Seb given the start he had."
When asked about what he felt he needed to do better in 2012 if he was to take the fight to Vettel, Webber said: "We need to have a better start, for sure, to the championship. And we need to have a similar year to what I had last year; out-qualify him more often, which was certainly the case last year, and then getting track position and getting the stops.
"That is where it is important to get that, and if you don't get that you are always going to finish one position behind. If you are on the road 1-2 or 2-3, you never really get the momentum."
Webber thinks it took him until the European Grand Prix at Valencia to really come to grips with the nature of the Pirelli tires – especially in how to look after them over a race distance.
"In Valencia it was a bit of a change for me – I could do the same strategy for the first time," he said. "In all the races before that, I had the pace but I had to make an extra pit stop, and I don't really understand why that happened but it did.
"In Valencia, there was a bit of a point in terms of things changing there for my Sunday performance because before then I had to make this extra stop, which is always littered with problems. It gets difficult to clear traffic and coming through, those sorts of things.
"I think it will be much more stable next year in terms of continuity of the tires and certainly we need to put up a better fight than we did this year, there is no question about it. It is just a case of that's the way the cookie crumbled this year."