by Tim Collings
Mark Webber on Thursday cut through the pleasantries ahead of Sunday's season-opening Grand Prix when he revealed a flash of his deeply competitive nature during the traditional pre-race media conference.
Having delivered one of the quotes of the season last year at Silverstone when he won the British Grand Prix and then told his team 'not bad for a number two driver', he followed it with another waspish aside at his and the Red Bull team's rivals.
"Well, we are just a drinks company, but we hope we can go out and repeat what we did last year," he said, delivering a verbal smash at reported comments by Briton Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion, who had appeared to deride Red Bull's heritage compared to those of his McLaren team and mutual rivals Ferrari.
"We are keen to go for both championships again and we want to be there right at the end," added Webber, who endured a mild grilling from the media at the Albert Park circuit, just a day after grilling the snags at a beach barbecue for his inquisitors.
One, intrigued by his culinary skills, inquired about his training and his recipe for the year ahead.
"Well, my dad taught me how to handle a barbecue from a pretty young age," he said. "And I love to do one whenever I can, but in England, of course, we don't get too much weather for that...
"And as to my recipe for this year - well, I'm hoping for a similar season, but with a different ending this time around."
As to Sunday's race, the 34-year-old Australian was optimistic that he could improve on his previous best finish of fifth, but conceded that it would be tough. "It is a good event, there is a lot of unpredictability about it, usually a couple of Safety Cars... so we'll just try to improve and hope for the best.
"There's a lot of questions about the tyres and we don't know what the answers are yet. In terms of strategy and tactics, we still don't know how we are going to ‘skin the cat' in a Grand Prix, in a strategic style.
"When we do, I am sure a trend will emerge, but this is the first one. Let's see how it goes... "