Reuters: Australian Mark Webber will race on for Formula One champions Red Bull in 2012 after agreeing a contract extension for another year, the team said on Saturday.
The announcement came as Webber celebrated his 35th birthday at the Belgian Grand Prix, where he was fastest in free practice on Friday.
Webber’s team mate and world champion Sebastian Vettel leads him in the standings by 85 points after 11 of the season’s 19 races.
“I want to continue racing at the top in Formula One so it’s a no-brainer to remain at Red Bull for another year,” Webber said in a statement.
“My motivation to achieve the best results possible both for myself and the team is still very high.
“Over the past five years, we have worked hard and proved that we can design and build a competitive and championship-winning car and I’m looking forward to putting the car and myself on the limit again each and every race weekend in 2012.”
Webber was a title contender last season, when the championship hung in the balance until the final race in Abu Dhabi, but has been eclipsed by 24-year-old Vettel since the German took the title.
Vettel won six of the first eight races while Webber, despite six appearances on the podium this season, has yet to triumph since he won in Hungary more than a year ago.
Red Bull have started every race this year on pole position and are on course to take both championships well before the end of the season.
“When we sat down and started talking about 2012, it was immediately obvious that Mark and the team wanted to continue our successful relationship,” said team boss Christian Horner.
“This meant agreeing an extension for 2012 was very straightforward.
“Mark knows the team well, having been with us since 2007, and his motivation, fitness and commitment is as high as it has ever been,” he added.
The decision to retain the Australian means British-based Red Bull will have an unchanged lineup for the fourth season in a row.
It also removes any lingering speculation about the immediate future of 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton, who had been linked earlier in the year to Red Bull despite having a McLaren contract for next year.
Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari are the only teams to have won races this year and all are set to continue with the same drivers in 2012.