Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he ‘wouldn’t be surprised’ to see Red Bull Racing rival Mark Webber walk away from the top flight at the end of the current campaign should the Australian enjoy a successful season at the highest level.
Webber is now in his ninth year on the grand prix grid, but it was only in 2009 that he finally had at his disposal a competitive car with which to fight at the front – and the New South Wales native wasted little time in proving his potential, registering his breakthrough victory at the Nürburgring in Germany and following that up with a second triumph at Interlagos in the penultimate outing in Brazil.
In-between there were moments where Webber threatened to mount a genuine world championship challenge – something he ostensibly has a chance to do again this year, with the Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull RB6 widely regarded as one of the very quickest cars in the field. And at 33, and with the rumours that rallying refugee Kimi Raikkonen is already being lined up to take his place in 2011, Webber could be considering imminent retirement, reckons Hamilton.
“I don’t know how long he plans to stay in Formula 1, but I get the sense that it’s one of the years he wants to finish on top and perhaps call it a day,” says the McLaren man, ahead of this weekend’s race down under. “He has the best chance to end on that high this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is considering it.”