Feb.13 (GMM) Some distance may have crept into their relationship, but Mark Webber insists there is no tension between himself and fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo.
Ricciardo, the 22-year-old who has stepped up from HRT last year to the full-time Toro Rosso race seat for 2012, told the Melbourne Age newspaper that Webber - at the senior team Red Bull - is keeping his distance despite earlier easing his transition into the world of F1.
The feeling in the F1 paddock is that Red Bull's Dr Helmut Marko is grooming Ricciardo and Toro Rosso's other new driver Jean-Eric Vergne to potentially succeed Webber as world champion Sebastian Vettel's next teammate.
As for the distance between him and Webber now that they are in competition for the same seat, Ricciardo said: "I guess he's still got his career now and his things to worry about -- I'll try not to get in his way too much.
"And, you know, now we are on the same route together, maybe he doesn't want to tell me too much but that is completely understandable."
I was supposed to be replaced by Kimi (Raikkonen) four years ago
35-year-old Webber, however, insisted there is no real tension with his countryman.
"Not at all, you know, I've been through enough on and off the track to know that nothing is forever," he said.
"I was supposed to be replaced by Kimi (Raikkonen) four years ago," he laughed, referring to the notorious F1 rumour-mill.