Now or never?
Still No.2? ... Mark Webber has an important season ahead. Photo: Getty Images
This year could well define Mark Webber's formula one legacy.
In many ways it is a ''now or never'' season for the Australian, who will be 37 in August and the oldest driver on the grid.
Red Bull has won the past three drivers' championships - but in the hands of the young star Sebastian Vettel, with Webber acting in the unwanted role of wingman.
Webber is on a yearly deal and it is debatable whether his contract will extend into 2014, with talented younger racers, including countryman Daniel Ricciardo, eager to unseat him.
The veteran has repeatedly said he would not move down pit lane to an uncompetitive car, so this year could be his last chance to drive a pace-setting machine and claim the elusive world crown.
In 2010, he set up his best chance to win the championship before proceeding to create his own hurdles while heading for glory.
He went on a victory spree in a standout year, winning in Spain, Monaco, Britain and Hungary.
Webber headed the world championship points table before an unforced error resulted in what would ultimately become a disastrous spin in the Korean GP.
It was a serious setback yet he still had a chance to take the title in the season-ending Abu Dhabi GP.
Qualifying a disappointing fifth virtually put paid to that bid in a messy race that saw Webber and fellow contender Fernando Alonso involved in a race of their own while Vettel slipped by to take the crown.
Webber was still competitive last year, winning again in Monaco and Britain.
The Australian has angrily disputed suggestions he should quit, or that he will slow down with age and become a liability to Red Bull.
''I don't see this as my last year in formula one,'' said. ''I have signed one-year contracts for the last four years here, even when I am fighting for the world championship.
''I still feel 25. I know I am not but I feel young.
''I don't feel as though I am getting tired when driving the car. I feel good.''
The Australian is renowned for his fitness and durability and he is undoubtedly still quick but some things never change. And for Webber that means slow starts.
Unless he can produce an unlikely turnaround, Webber's blank stare when the lights go out will continue.
He has frequently lost races before the first corner from pole position, a source of puzzlement and frustration for him, his team and his fans.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner has given complex and technical reasons why this sort of thing has become Webber's trademark.
The fact is though, it does not happen to the other leading drivers.
In contrast, in the same Red Bull car, Vettel lost a total of just four places off the start.
Apart from outside reservations, Webber has had to face criticism from within his own team, virtually being accused of choking.
This comes from Red Bull ''adviser'' Dr Helmet Marko, an unabashed Vettel fan, who has put Webber under tremendous pressure within the team with his continuous partisanship.
Unfortunately, Marko does make some relevant points. It is embarrassing, though, when his disparaging comments are published in the Red Bull team's in-house magazine.
''It seems to me that Webber has on average two races per year where he is unbeatable, but he can't maintain this form throughout the year,'' Marko told Red Bulletin.
''In comparison with Seb's rising form, it seems to me that Mark's form somehow flattens out.''
Retirement will come, sooner rather than later, and it is clear Webber is wrestling with the idea.
''I haven't been there yet but it is going to be a very difficult moment, no question about it,'' Webber told GP International magazine.