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Former triple World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart believes that Mark Webber has now placed himself in a strong position from which to fight for this year's World Championship. The Scotsman, who won 27 Grands Prix during his career, formed the team now known as Red Bull Racing in 1996.
Under its first guise, Stewart Grand Prix competed in the 1997 to 1999 seasons before being relabelled twice, first to Jaguar at the turn of the new millennium before Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz purchased the outfit prior to the 2005 campaign.
Australian Webber joined the squad for 2007 and now, having enjoyed back-to-back successes in Spain and Monaco, is tipped by Stewart for 2010 glory.
"I rate him highly," 70-year-old Sir Jackie told Reuters. "He's 33 years age and I think the early thirties are the best time for a racing driver; I know I felt it, I came of age when I was about thirty - how you went about your preparation, how you got your team to work for you.
"Mark has served a very long apprenticeship of not being recognised as being a future World Champion, of working in a very journeyman-like fashion. Both of those wins that he had in Barcelona and Monaco were incredibly dominant.
"The car is obviously very good but he's now got the maturity to make that happen in a very convincing way. I think he's got a good chance of winning the championship this year."
However, Stewart does remain cautious when it comes to choosing a winner out of either Webber or German team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
"I don't think you'd want to put very much money on one or the other," he continued. "Most people would put their money on Vettel right now, I should have thought, but after what Mark Webber's done it's pretty even."
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