SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Mark Webber recognized his mistake on Thursday after returning with a mean new look to a Formula One paddock buzzing with talk of war at Red Bull between the Australian and world champion team mate Sebastian Vettel.
“It was a little bit of a screw up,” grinned the driver when asked whether the severe haircut was a reflection of his mood after Vettel ignored team orders and passed him to win the last race in Malaysia.
“Once he (the barber) had started, he was on his way. The haircut is not part of the new look or new feel.
“I wanted to get in and out quite quick, so I said just shave it off,” he explained. “When he was half way through I thought ‘That’s a bit short now’...but anyway it doesn’t matter.”
Webber may have lost some of his hair but his head remained firmly screwed on. He left no doubt that he was up for the fight ahead, swiftly scotching any suggestion that he had contemplated quitting after the storm at Sepang.
“I’m definitely keen to finish the season off,” he said, looking refreshed after an Easter break surfing on Australian beaches.
“Obviously a lot of people were even questioning that one, which was certainly not something that was in my mind.
“I’m definitely keen to race this year and put together a very strong campaign and challenge for more wins, and you do enough of that and some more things can happen,” added the 36-year-old, whose contract runs out at the end of the year.
Webber, now the oldest man on the starting grid, said he was in no rush to nail down his future.
He will sit down with the team’s billionaire owner Dietrich Mateschitz in the European summer to discuss his options and see what comes of it.
“If I’m driving well, performances are good, then we’ll make some decisions in the future but at the moment, it’s the second or third race and I’ve never ever made decisions on my career at this point in the season,” he added.
The weekend in China, with trust between Webber and Vettel at a new low with the triple champion indicating little real remorse for robbing his team mate of a win, will be business as usual.
The two men exchanged a cursory greeting on arrival but they have never been the best of mates and the relationship is strictly professional now.
“Going forward, mate, I think we know everything that happened; obviously in Malaysia there was plenty of interest from everyone, other teams, media etc, but for me myself mate, it’s not an unusual situation and I’m looking forward to racing here this weekend and getting on with it,” said Webber.
“When you’re at the front in Formula One there’s always stuff going down so it just depends on how much is going down that you’ve got to manage.
“In the end, for me, I’m looking forward to driving the car here, putting in first gear and driving out of the garage and getting down there to feel what the car’s like on the circuit. That’s what I’m looking forward to, mate.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Tom Pilcher