Webber predicting a tight start to 2013 season

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Red Bull Racing driver Mark Webber is predicting a tight Australian Grand Prix when the Formula One season kicks off in Melbourne in two weeks time.

“Looking at the first race, I think it’s going to be a tight grand prix. There are a lot of quick cars out there and hopefully we have one of them.

“However, Melbourne is a very particular race, with very specific demands, so we’ll treat it as one race, then go to Malaysia and see how things shake up there.”

Despite a mediocre final session in Barcelona yesterday that saw him finish in seventh place, over two seconds behind quickest man Lewis Hamilton, Webber was pleased with his pre-season performance.

“I think we’ve done well and we have made a step forward. As I’ve said before it’s very difficult to see a real pecking order. We’ve just always been focused on what we have to do and not really looked too hard at anyone else.

“The important thing now is just to get out to Melbourne and get on with the racing.”

With just one year left on his contract, 2013 is an important season for Mark Webber. He will be keen on proving that he can match triple champion teammate Sebastian Vettel, but if the rivalry within Red Bull becomes too intense, it would most probably be Webber who would be shown the door at the end of the season.

Lewis Hamilton comes home to Mercedes factory after fourth title

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On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.

And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.

Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.

The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.

“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.

“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.

“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”

A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.