Vettel says he has learned a lot from Webber

Thu Nov 21, 2013 2:42pm EST
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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Quadruple world champion Sebastian Vettel says Mark Webber's retirement after Sunday's season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix will be a loss for both him and Red Bull despite their frequently frosty relationship.

The 37-year-old Australian is bowing out of Formula One after 12 years and 215 races, in which he has enjoyed nine wins, to start a new career racing for Porsche in their Le Mans endurance program.

Webber, who will be replaced by 24-year-old Toro Rosso driver and compatriot Daniel Ricciardo at the champions, has been with Red Bull since 2007 and raced as Vettel's team mate since 2009.

"People tend to forget how successful we have been," Vettel, who won his fourth title in a row in India last month, told reporters at the Interlagos circuit on Thursday. "I think it has been one of the strongest pairings in Formula One.

"We didn't have the best relationship on a personal level but I think in terms of working professionally together for the team it has been very strong," added the 26-year-old German.

"Surely the fact that he will not be around next year will be a loss for the team, a loss for myself because it has always been a huge challenge. I've learned a lot from him, and I can stand up straight and say that there were many, many times and many places where I benefited from him."

In their time together, Webber and Vettel have secured four successive constructors' titles for Red Bull - making them only the third team to achieve the feat after Ferrari and McLaren - and won 46 races.

Their relations have been strained by incidents on and off the track, with the pair colliding in Turkey in 2010 when battling for the lead while in Malaysia this year Vettel ignored team orders to take the win from Webber.

Webber has also in the past accused a faction within Austrian-owned Red Bull of favoring the German, describing his own win at Silverstone in 2010 as 'not bad for a number two driver'.   Continued...

Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrates winning the world championship after finishing third in the Japanese F1 Grand Prix at the Suzuka circuit October 9, 2011. REUTERS/Toru Hanai