Mike Stevens | Oct 22, 2009

RED BULL STAR MARK WEBBER says he is capable of fighting for the World Championship again next season following a breakthrough year which saw the Australian claim his first Grand Prix win.

Webber emerged as the most likely rival of eventual champion Jenson Button midway through the season, assuming second place in the standings as he zeroed in on the Briton’s points lead.

However, a poor run of results as the title race moved into its closing stages curtailed his bid to become Australia’s third ever Formula 1 World Champion and break Europe’s 11 year stranglehold on the driver’s crown.

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But following his victory in Brazil, ending a five race point scoring drought, Webber believes he is capable carrying the momentum across to the final event of the year and into next season.

“Our hope for 2010 has to be to go for the championships. There is only one more position that this team can get, so that is what we have to aim for. We need to keep improving,” he wrote in his BBC column.

“Up until Singapore there were only a couple of points between Sebastian and I so there is absolutely no reason at all why I can't fight for the championship next season.”

After breaking his right leg in a cycling accident at his own charity event last year, Webber’s career appeared clouded as he approached a season likely to decide his future in Formula 1.

Pitted against rising star Sebastian Vettel (below, with Webber), the 33-year-old was expected to struggle, with many touting the German as future World Champion and the man to end Webber’s time in F1.

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But against all expectations, Webber, overcoming a disappointing opening weekend in Melbourne, emerged as a bonafide star, outmatching Vettel on race day for the early part of the season despite lacking pace in qualifying.

After claiming only two podium finishes in his seven previous seasons in Formula 1, Webber reaped the benefits of finally landing a competitive car, securing four top-three appearances in the first eight rounds of the season.

The results indicated Webber was finally ready to clinch his first Grand Prix win, and he did so with style and panache at July’s German Grand Prix, overcoming a drive through penalty to blitz the field in a masterful performance.

His victory catapulted the Queanbeyan-native firmly into title calculations, and a third-place finish at the following race in Hungary seemingly confirmed Webber as Button’s chief rival.

However, his title challenge soon unravelled, as a combination of bad luck and driver error conspired to deny him a points-scoring finish for five consecutive races.

That run though ended with his emphatic victory at Interlagos, allowing Webber to emerge from the pool of drivers dubbed ‘one-win wonders’.

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