Adrian Newey has revealed he would like to see Mark Webber stay with Red Bull Racing in 2012.
Along with other key players including designer Newey and team boss Christian Horner, Sebastian Vettel's contract for next year and beyond was recently extended.
I'm hoping Mark continues next season.
34-year-old Webber, however, is currently scheduled to leave the dominant team at the end of the season, with bosses wanting to gauge his motivation and performance at a later date.
The Australian has struggled to match runaway championship leader Vettel's pace so far in 2011, with team driver manager Helmut Marko admitting recently that the young German alongside Lewis Hamilton would be a "fantasy" pairing.
"Crikey," Newey responded in an interview with the Guardian.
"I'm hoping Mark continues next season. Apart from being a great person, his contribution has been significant. He's been a pillar of the team from the start.
"Seb is very perceptive in his feedback in some regards and Mark is very perceptive in other areas. We listen to both and it helps the car," the Briton added.
He admitted Webber has struggled recently but is now "closing the gap" to Vettel.
"At the moment he (Vettel) is really on top of his game. It's certainly not a case that Mark has been driving any slower -- that's for sure. Mark's just taken a bit longer to adapt to the Pirelli tyres but the gap is closing."
He said the drivers felt the enormous pressure of last year's championship battle and also revealed that he was affected physically by the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994.
"The little hair I had all fell out in the aftermath," said Newey, who designed the Williams that Senna raced at Imola. "So it changed me physically."
He believes Senna's crash was caused by a puncture rather than a failed steering column but is nonetheless reluctant to see the new film about the great Brazilian's career.
"No. It would not be an easy thing to do," said Newey.