Bernie Ecclestone has tipped Mark Webber to hold on to his championship lead until November’s chequered flag in Abu Dhabi.
“I am a big fan of Sebastian Vettel,” the F1 chief executive is quoted by Express newspaper in Singapore, “but Mark has done brilliantly well and at his age he is so hungry for it.”
Australian Webber, 34, holds a five-point lead over four other title contenders all within a points margin of a single race victory.
“He knows this might be the best chance of his career, maybe the only one, and that makes him very dangerous,” added Ecclestone.
Fernando Alonso is also singling out Webber as a major title contender.
“Mark has surprised everyone,” the Spaniard told Bild newspaper. “He has been the most consistent of all of us and deserves his lead.”
After the two power circuits at Spa and Monza, Red Bull’s RB6 should be back to top form on the tighter streets of Singapore.
But some figures, notably those at McLaren, are expecting Red Bull’s dominance to have been numbed by the new flexible bodywork tests.
“I know from experience of testing the parts that they had, doing things they were doing, it was worth a lot of time,” said Lewis Hamilton.
“If they have stopped doing it then they will have lost a lot of time.”
But team consultant Helmut Marko warns that the RB6 could actually be faster than ever this weekend.
“We have come with an upgrade package that should make us two tenths faster,” he told Kleine Zeitung newspaper.
But Webber cannot yet count on the support of his teammate Vettel.
Asked if he is now happy to back the Australian’s championship challenge, the German said in Singapore: “Things can change quickly. There are no guarantees.
“Mark is in top position now but who knows in a few races’ time.”
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