Category Archives: Mark Webber

Mark Webber

Mark Webber during practice, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2013

Weight would have disadvantaged Webber – Newey

Mark Webber during practice, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2013Mark Webber would have been at a disadvantage under the new rules had he continued to race in F1 in 2014, according to Red Bull’s Adrian Newey.

Webber left F1 at the end of last season to compete in the World Endurance Championship. As one of F1′s taller drivers, his higher weight had hindered the team’s efforts to get his car down to the minimum weight limit without sacrificing performance.

Drivers are under greater pressure to trim down this year due to the increased weight of the new engines, despite the minimum weight limit rising to 691kg this year.

“With Sebastian [Vettel] and Daniel [Ricciardo] we will reach the limit by the skin of our teeth,” Newey told The Red Bulletin. “Mark Webber would really be at a disadvantage this season.”

“My cars have a general tendency to gain weight after their first outing,” Newey added. The development of the exhaust-blown diffusers on the 2011 RB7 was an example of that:

“To start with the exhausts kept breaking because of the unusual shape, but we got a grip on the problem in the end with extra material and changing the way we treated it.”

But Newey added the performance of the 2011 car with exhaust-blowing didn’t quite reach that of the 2010 car when double diffusers were legal:

“The RB6 was probably the car with the most downforce in the history of F1, more even than the legendary spoiler cars of the 1980s. We measured up to 5.5G of lateral acceleration.

“It could go flat out through Copse at Silverstone, and on the sharp bend on the back straight at Barcelona [Campsa].”

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Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Red Bull, Monte-Carlo, 2010

Why Webber’s greatest misfortune was to be Vettel’s team mate

Put two top drivers in a car capable of winning the world championship and there will inevitably be points of friction. That was certainly true of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel during their five years together at Red Bull, which came to an end at the close of this season.

Though closely matched at first, with time Vettel gradually asserted himself over Webber, to the point that in their final season together all 13 of Red Bull’s victories were score by Vettel.

This could be explained as Vettel’s precocious young talent maturing into one of the most formidable forces on the track today. But others perceived sinister forces were at work within the team, striving to undermine Webber. Which is the more compelling explanation for the superiority Vettel came to exert within the team?

The first season

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Shanghai, 2009

In 2009 Webber began his third year with Red Bull. Both were yet to win a grand prix, but new team mate Vettel had brought cheer to the Red Bull project by scoring his first victory with sister team Toro Rosso the year before. That inevitably provoked questions why the rebranded Minardi squad had achieved the feat before the main team had.

Vettel put that right three races into his Red Bull career with a superb victory at a rain-soaked Chinese Grand Prix. But from the outset Webber was on the back foot – almost literally, having broken his leg in a pre-season cycling accident. Merely starting the season was a brave effort on his part, and in China he followed Vettel home to give the team a one-two.

In these early days there were times when the more experienced Webber was able to exploit Vettel’s lack of polish.

In the Turkish Grand Prix, their seventh race together, Vettel went off on the first lap and fell behind his team mate. Towards the end of the race Vettel caught second-placed Webber and, despite being ahead of his team mate in the championship, was ordered to hold position behind him. He did, and followed Webber home in third place.

This was unremarkable at the time but became significant in the light of subsequent events.

The Istanbul incident

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Istanbul, 2010Twelve months later at the same track a similar situation played out. Once again Webber led Vettel, who had been slowed by a brake problem in qualifying, with the two McLarens bearing down on them.

Vettel made to pass his team mate and was on the verge of completing the move when he edged back towards the racing line. It was too soon. The two RB6s touched, spinning Vettel into retirement, sending Webber into the pits with a broken wing and handing McLaren a one-two finish.

Television cameras caught an unimpressed Vettel making a ‘crazy’ gesture in reference to his team mate’s driving. Afterwards Red Bull’s Helmut Marko, the architect of the driver programme which had brought Vettel to the team, backed his young charge instead of the patently blameless Webber.

In any tension between the two team mates Marko invariably came down on Vettel’s side, which unquestionably undermined Red Bull’s insistence that the pair were receiving equal treatment. And the mishandling of a situation at Silverstone later that year did even more damage.

The team had brought two new front wings for the weekend, one each for Vettel and Webber, the latter trialling his team mate in the championship by eight points. When the mounting on Vettel’s wing failed during final practice, the sole remaining example of the new wing was allocated to him instead of Webber.

Vettel duly took pole position at Silverstone but first-corner contact with Lewis Hamilton left him with a puncture and Webber won the race. But his status within the team was fixed in the minds of many by his infamous post-race retort to Christian Horner: “Not bad for a number two driver”.

Despite the growing friction between their drivers Red Bull tried to use team tactics to their advantage when they could. During a Safety Car period in the Hungarian Grand Prix Vettel, who had pitted, was asked to delay the field to assist Webber, who was running in front of him and yet to make his pit stop.

However Vettel, whose radio was not working properly, failed to heed a reminder not to break the rules by holding up the field too much and inadvertently earned himself a drive-through penalty, handing the win to Webber. At the time the team kept quiet about the tactical error.

Vettel snatches 2010 title

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Red Bull, Monte-Carlo, 2010In the second half of 2010, as Adrian Newey began to exploit the opportunities for boosting downforce by blowing exhaust gasses into the diffuser, Red Bull became increasingly unstoppable.

However it seemed Vettel was better able to adapt his driving style to access this extra performance than Webber was. What also helped Vettel’s cause in the latter stages of 2010 was that Webber was nursing another injury, this time to his shoulder, which wasn’t disclosed until after the season had ended.

Vettel went into the final races of 2010 as the driver to beat on race day, but at a disadvantage in the points standings after an error-strewn race in Belgium and a late-race engine failure while leading in Korea. Both drivers arrived at the Abu Dhabi finale with a chance of keeping points leader Fernando Alonso from the crown. But in the race Webber flailed, Ferrari missed an open goal, and Vettel sealed his first of four world championships.

The 2011 season continued as 2010 had ended. Vettel routed everyone – Webber included – and the deepening rift between them widened further following events in the closing stages of the British Grand Prix.

Webber was instructed to hold position as he closed on his second-placed team mate but showed how little he cared for the order by making a determined attempt to overtake Vettel. In the context of Vettel’s domination of the season it was inconsequential at the time, but later events would show Webber’s insubordination had made its mark.

That race saw Ferrari’s only victory of the season, which coincided with a one-off restriction on the use of exhaust-blown diffusers. The technology was further limited in 2012 which was welcome news for them and Webber, who regained some of the ground he had lost to his team mate.

The Pirelli factor

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Shanghai, 2011But it was the 2011 introduction of ‘designed to degrade’ tyres, provided by Pirelli, that was Webber’s real bete noire, and something he recently identified as part of the reason why he fell further behind Vettel.

“I think he?s been very strong on the Pirellis,” said Webber in India this year. “Obviously [on] the Bridgestones was probably a little bit tighter but on Pirellis he?s certainly been very strong and no real weaknesses on those tyres so it?s been strong for him.”

Nonetheless with the value of exhaust-blowing greatly reduced an injury-free Webber enjoyed a much more competitive start to 2012. As late as round 11 he headed Vettel in the points table following victories in Monaco and Britain.

But a succession of misfortunes blunted Webber’s championship chances in the second half of 2012: gearbox change penalties in Germany and Belgium, a differential fault in Hungary, and contact at Suzuka and Abu Dhabi.

Parallel to the claims of Red Bull persistently favouring Vettel there have been insinuations of Webber receiving inferior or less reliable equipment. But the data from the five years they spent as team mates debunks the view that either driver had considerably worse or better machinery at their disposal.

Vettel’s race-ending technical failures outnumbered Webber’s seven to four during their five years as team mates. And taking non-terminal failures into account shows the pair were reasonably closely matched in this respect.

The final race of 2012 pitted Vettel against Alonso in a straight fight for the championship, with Webber long out of contention. The support each of the title rivals received from their respective team mates could hardly have contrasted more strikingly.

In the penultimate round Felipe Massa had accepted being given a gearbox change he did not require, in order to earn a grid penalty which moved Alonso one place forwards. In the Brazil finale Massa twice made way for his team mate.

Webber, however, made no concessions to his team mate at the start, squeezing him hard at turn one. Vettel fell back and was involved in a collision that nearly cost him the championship. Another marker had been laid down between the pair, and this would have repercussions just two races later.

“I was racing, I was faster, I passed him”

Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Sepang, 2013According to Webber he made his mind up about his future before the first race of 2013, at which he took a group of journalists out for a meal. One week later they were writing about the latest episode of the Webber-Vettel soap opera.

On a wet track in Malaysia, Vettel threw away the lead by pitting too soon, ending up behind Webber. In a scenario not dissimilar to Istanbul three years earlier Vettel found himself staring at his team mate’s rear wing while under attack from another team – in this case the two Mercedes drivers.

Professional sportsmen and women have no time for niceties in the thick of battle and Vettel is no different. “Mark is too slow,” he told the pit wall, “get him out of the way”. But Red Bull showed no desire to change the running order.

Later in the race the threat from Mercedes dissipated and Webber emerged from his final pit stop ahead of Vettel. Now Red Bull laid down an order and it was not what Vettel wanted to hear. The infamous coded instruction “Multi 21″ – meaning car number two followed by car number one – was an order for Vettel to stay behind Webber, and one which does not fit a narrative of Webber always receiving second-class treatment from the team.

Vettel, of course, did not comply. He behaved exactly as Webber had done at Silverstone in 2011 but with one significant difference: unlike Webber, he made a move stick and won the race. A furious Webber chopped across Vettel’s bows after they took the chequered flag.

At first Vettel indicated remorse for what had unfolded. “For sure it?s not a victory I?m very proud of,” he said after the race, “because it should have been Mark’s”.

But after a few days his view had hardened. “He didn?t deserve it,” Vettel said in China. “There is quite a conflict, because on the one hand I am the kind of guy who respects team decisions and the other hand, probably Mark is not the one who deserved it at the time.”

“I don?t like to talk ill of other people. It?s not my style. I think I said enough. The bottom line is that I was racing, I was faster, I passed him, I won.”

This was an uncompromising verdict on his team mate. Yet at the same time it was clear Webber’s chickens had come home to roost. This was not a view widely heard in coverage of the race, which largely ignored the four-year history between them and portrayed Vettel as the villain.

Time to move on

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2013Malaysia was one of few occasions the pair went wheel-to-wheel on track during 2013. The ever-widening gap between them had grown even further, and by the end of the year Vettel had almost double Webber’s points tally.

It’s easy to forget how highly regarded Webber was before his five-year pummelling at Vettel’s hands began. And that even towards the end of their final season together he could still keep Vettel honest – as he did by snatching pole position in Abu Dhabi.

It’s not hard to understand why any racing driver would baulk at being ordered to let his team mate past or stay his hand in the heat of battle. But those who try to claim that only Webber has been asked to make those sacrifices for Red Bull, or that only Vettel has defied them, are selectively ignoring the facts.

Does the Silverstone wing decision reflect badly on Red Bull? Yes. And the same is true of the crashingly unsubtle partiality of Helmut Marko. But points like this do not come closer to accounting for why Vettel won 31 races more than Webber during their five years together. That is a reflection on Vettel’s skill as a driver, and especially how well he has adapted to post-2010 Formula One.

Given Webber’s recent lapse in form the timing of his departure from Formula One seems to be very well-judged. It will add much interest to next year’s World Endurance Championship to see him campaigning a works Porsche on the kind of classic old circuits he thrives at, such as Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps and the mighty La Sarthe.

Before he joined Red Bull Webber already had a reputation for misfortune. Whether it was a string of car failures which always seemed to strike when he was on the point of some giant-killing feat, or the unfortunate timing of his switch to Williams, Webber often seemed to have more than his share of bad luck.

But his greatest misfortune probably occurred when he finally got his hands on car that was capable of winning races and championships – at the very same time he was partnered with the prodigious talent of Sebastian Vettel.

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Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2013

Red Bull’s winning machine hit new heights in 2013

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Yas Marina, 2013

In the opening rounds of 2013 it seemed as if Red Bull were going to face much stronger opposition from their rivals.

Sebastian Vettel may have lined up on pole position for the first race of the year but he slipped to third at the chequered flag as his Red Bull RB9 asked too much of Pirelli’s super soft and medium tyre combination.

Although he won in Malaysia it was on a day when his rivals were compromised: Fernando Alonso crashed out and Kimi Raikkonen was delayed by front wing damage. Alonso’s romp to victory in China, while Vettel started on the harder tyres as Red Bull continued to grapple with the new-generation Pirellis, seemed a further indication Vettel wouldn’t have an easy title defence.

Red Bull believed some of their rivals had lucked in to producing cars that worked well on the latest Pirelli product and were not shy about criticising the fragility of the tyres. Following the Spanish Grand Prix, where Alonso won again, team principal Christian Horner commented that having to make four tyre stops per race was excessive.

Red Bull team stats 2013

Best race result (number) 1 (13)
Best grid position (number) 1 (11)
Non-finishes (mechanical/other) 4 (3/1)
Laps completed (% of total) 2,169 (95.55%)
Laps led (% of total) 753 (66.34%)
Championship position (2012) 1 (1)
Championship points (2012) 596 (460)
Pit stop performance ranking 1

“Red Bull are pushing to make a change and if we do something that helps them you can understand that Lotus and Ferrari won?t be happy,” responded Pirelli motorsport Paul Hembery. “You can imagine, though, if we make a change, that it might be seen that we?re making tyres for Red Bull in particular.”

By the Canadian Grand Prix it seemed Red Bull had sussed the tyres. Vettel took a commanding third win of the year on a track the team had previously failed to conquer. And then came the season’s great turning point: with tyres exploding left, right and centre at Silverstone Pirelli finally conceded a change had to be made.

To begin it did not seem to be the case that a switch had been flipped and Red Bull were now unstoppable. Vettel had to use all of his skill to hold off the two Lotuses in Germany, and in Hungary Lewis Hamilton took pole and won.

In recent seasons we have become used to seeing Red Bull make greater development gains in the latter part of the season and so it was this year, only more so. Vettel got into his stride after the summer break, gutting the opposition in a manner F1 hasn’t seen the likes of since the days of Alberto Ascari. The two championships duly fell to him and the team in India, but realistically it was over long before then.

These fourth consecutive titles for team and driver underlined Red Bull’s mastery of the current generation of rules. had it not been for the ‘double diffuser’ controversy in 2009 it’s likely all five titles since the last major aerodynamics regulation change would have been won by the Milton Keynes team.

The RB9 was closely related to its similarly successful predecessors: chief technical officer Adrian Newey described it as “very close cousin of last year’s” car – the RB8.

“I would almost not call this a new car it was kind of a development of last year’s car made over the winter, ready for the start of this year,” he explained. “That’s what this year’s been all about, it’s been about taking that car, developing it, getting it to suit the drivers, Sebastian and Mark [Webber], to compliment their techniques and what they’d like out of the car. And also to suit the Pirellis.”

Red Bull have become a dominant force in recent seasons but as the current generation of rules comes to an end there are signs their says at the front of the field may be numbered.

Webber took another drubbing at the hands of Vettel – including a controversial run-in between the pair in Malaysia – and announced his decision to quit Formula One. He may have accounted for a smaller share of Red Bull’s success than his team mate but but his technical feedback has always been highly valued by Newey.

And several major technical figures are making their way to other teams, including Newey’s right-hand man Peter Prodromou. That and an overhaul of the regulations which could shift the onus of development from aerodynamics to powertrain could be the biggest threat yet to the Red Bull winning machine.

Red Bull drivers 2013 race results

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2013drivercolours.csv

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Sebastian Vettel 3 1 4 1 4 2 1 1 3 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
Mark Webber 6 2 7 5 3 4 2 7 4 5 3 15 2 2 3 2

Red Bull’s 2013 season in pictures

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Felipe Massa, Mark Webber, Istanbul, 2011

Vettel vs Webber and Alonso vs Massa, 2009-2013

Felipe Massa, Mark Webber, Istanbul, 2011Two of F1′s longest-running driver partnerships of recent seasons have come to an end.

Mark Webber has left F1 of his own choosing after five years alongside Sebastian Vettel. And Ferrari dropped Felipe Massa at the end of his eighth season at the team, the last four of which were spent alongside Fernando Alonso.

In both cases the most recent arrivals to the team – Vettel and Alonso – were never beaten over a full season by the drivers they joined.

But as the statistics show it was a much closer contest at one team than the other.

Qualifying

Average grid positions

Grid average 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Average
Sebastian Vettel 4.4 2.0 1.2 5.0 2.0 2.92
Mark Webber 6.7 2.5 3.7 5.8 5.4 4.82
Fernando Alonso 5.8 4.5 6.1 6.0 5.60
Felipe Massa 7.8 5.7 9.8 7.95 7.81

Pole positions

Pole Positions 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Total
Sebastian Vettel 4 10 15 6 9 44
Mark Webber 1 5 3 2 2 13
Fernando Alonso 2 0 2 0 4
Felipe Massa 0 0 0 0 0

Alonso and Vettel had a similar edge over their team mates in both seasons, though Webber had a particularly strong year against his team mate in 2010.

Strikingly, after 14 races that year the qualifying score between Vettel and Webber was 7-7. But over the final five races, following the team’s introduction of an exhaust-blown diffuser and during which time Webber sustained a shoulder injury, Vettel was ahead every time and clinched the world championship.

Races

Average race positions

Race average 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Average
Sebastian Vettel 3.8 3.6 1.5 4.4 1.6 2.98
Mark Webber 5.2 4.0 3.3 6.1 4.5 4.62
Fernando Alonso 4.5 3.4 3.2 4.0 3.78
Felipe Massa 7.1 6.3 8.0 7.1 7.13

Race wins

Wins 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Total
Sebastian Vettel 4 5 11 5 13 38
Mark Webber 2 4 1 2 0 9
Fernando Alonso 5 1 3 2 11
Felipe Massa 0 0 0 0 0

Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Hockenheimring, 2010The gap between Vettel and Webber’s finishing positions was fairly consistent in their first few years together but rose to almost three places this year.

Massa’s unfortunate record of failing to win in four seasons, all of which Alonso won at least one race in, would of course look very different had Ferrari not ordered Massa to hand a victory to his team at Hockenheim in 2010. But the fact remains he has usually been much further behind Alonso than Webber has behind Vettel.

Despite his clear underperformance Massa’s Ferrari contract was extended in 2011 and again in 2012.

His last extension, coming after a season where he finished 4.8 places behind Alonso on average, did not pass without comment from Ferrari’s rival team. Christian Horner said he wouldn’t have kept Massa based on how his results compared with Alonso’s.

Points

2009* 2010 2011 2012 2013 Total % of team’s total
Sebastian Vettel 84 256 392 281 397 1410 59.81
Mark Webber 69.5 242 258 179 199 947.5 40.19
Fernando Alonso 252 257 278 242 1029 67.48
Felipe Massa 144 118 122 112 496 32.52

*Previous points system

The view that Webber was closer to Vettel’s pace before the switch to Pirelli tyres is backed up by their points hauls. Webber was much closer to Vettel on Bridgestones in 2009 and 2010 than he was in the following three years.

However even in his final year alongside Vettel Webber managed to score more than half his team mate’s points tally – though he only just managed it this season. Massa, meanwhile, scored less than half Alonso’s points haul for the last three years in a row.

The graph below shows what percentage of their team’s points total the drivers scored in each season.

http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/charts/2013drivercolours.csv

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Sebastian Vettel 54.72 51.41 60.31 61.09 66.61
Mark Webber 45.28 48.59 39.69 38.91 33.39
Fernando Alonso 63.64 68.53 69.50 68.36
Felipe Massa 36.36 31.47 30.50 31.64

Retirements

This graph shows how many non-classified retirements each driver had during the same time period, and whether those were caused by technical faults or another problem, e.g. a collision.

Over to you

Share your thoughts on the intra-team rivalries between the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers in the comments.

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Images ?? Ferrari/Ercole Colombo

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011

Mark Webber’s F1 career in pictures

With Mark Webber heading off to a new life in the World Endurance Championship, here’s a look back on his F1 career in pictures.

2002-04 Minardi and Jaguar

Mark Webber, Jaguar, Monza, 2004

After making his F1 debut with Minardi – and scoring two points on his debut with fifth place at home in Australia – Webber was hired by Jaguar to replace Eddie Irvine.

But the Ford-owned team never delivered on its potential and was sold to Red Bull at the end of the year. In the meantime Webber made his way to the last team an Australian driver had won the world championship with: Williams.

2005-06: Williams

Mark Webber, Williams, Spa-Francorchamps, 2005

However Williams proved to be a minor improvement at best. Webber clinched his first podium but when a switch to Cosworth engines in 2006 led to a second season of frustration he was on to pastures new.

2007-08: Red Bull

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Hungaroring, 2008

Not so new, as it turned out, as he returned to the Milton Keynes-based squad which had been called Jaguar and was now rebranded Red Bull. The team rarely ventured beyond the midfield during Webber’s first two seasons with them, though when they did it was usually thanks to his efforts.

2009-13: Red Bull

Mark Webber took his only win of 2011 in the final race

The 2009 season brought two big changes: Adrian Newey sussed the new regulations so well it transformed Red Bull into front runners for the past five years and counting.

Unfortunately for Webber, new team mate Sebastian Vettel arrived to take the lion’s share of success. However Webber claimed nine victories for himself before bowing out to drive for Porsche in the World Endurance Championship.

Goodbye to Webber

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2013

Red Bull said farewell to Webber in style at the final race of the year in Brazil.

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Images ?? Ford.com, BMW ag, Williams/LAT, Red Bull/Getty, Red Bull/GEPA

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2009

Mark Webber’s top ten F1 races

Mark Webber’s path to success in Formula One was not an easy one.

His early years saw some impressive giant-killing feats and occasional qualifying heroics – and an awful lot of treading water in cars that were uncompetitive, unreliable, or both.

That remained the case even after his 2007 move to Red Bull. But the team hit the big time in 2009 and Webber’s long-overdue first win finally arrived.

That glorious day at the Nurburgring was unquestionably one of the high points of Webber’s 215-race F1 career. As he prepares to move his racing career to the World Endurance Championship, here are ten of his best moments as a grand prix driver.

2002 Australian Grand Prix

Ralf Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Melbourne, 2002Webber made his Grand Prix debut for Minardi on home turf in the 2002 season opener at Albert Park. Expectations were low: the Italian minnows had mustered only a solitary point (for sixth place) in their previous six campaigns. But what followed that weekend was to be truly extraordinary.

A huge first-lap pile up decimated the field and Webber found himself in a remarkable fifth place at the mid-point of the race, with no apparent threats to his position from behind. The pressure on the rookie driver to cling to a precious points finish for the tiny team was huge.

But a series of misfortunes threatened to spoil the party for Webber and the Australian fans. A pit stop delay cost him 25 seconds and then a broken differential and gearbox troubles left him vulnerable.

The closing laps were David versus Goliath stuff as Mika Salo, driving for Toyota’s new and hugely expensive Formula One team, arrived on Webber’s tail. Salo was clearly the quicker of the two, but spun in his attempts to pass, leaving Webber unchallenged in fifth and sending the local fans into delirium.

Webber’s efforts single-handedly earned Minardi ninth in the constructors’ championship that year. They failed to add to their points haul, but Toyota and Arrows could only equal them with a pair of sixth place finishes, leaving Minardi on top.

But for Webber the achievement became something of a monkey on his back. It took him over three years to better the result, and a whole decade before he managed a higher finish in his home grand prix.

2003 Hungarian Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Jaguar, Hungaroring, 2003Though Webber did not score again for Minardi, his performances were enough to earn him a move up the grid to Jaguar the following season, and it was with the British outfit that his talents truly came to the fore.

The pick of Webber’s Jaguar outings came at the Hungaroring in 2003. He qualified third – equalling his best grid position to date – and made good use of starting on the clean side of the track to take second at the start.

The Hungaroring had been redesigned that year in a bid to improve overtaking opportunities, but the difficulty the likes of Kimi Raikkonen had trying to pass Webber indicated the efforts had been in vain.

Only Ralf Schumacher managed to break the Jaguar driver’s defences, and a few others slipped past through the refuelling pit stops.

But Webber still retained a sixth place at the chequered flag which was better than the R4 chassis warranted – and not the first time he had achieved it, either.

2006 Monaco Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Williams, Monte-Carloe, 2006After two years with Jaguar, it was clear that Webber was ready for a move to a top team. His 2005 move to Williams seemed a match made in heaven – the pairing of this no-nonsense team with a gritty Australian charger had worked brilliantly in their Alan Jones days.

Webber had turned down an offer from Renault to partner Fernando Alonso and it soon became clear how big a mistake this had been. Renault won the constructors’ championships in 2005 and 2006 while Alonso did the business in the drivers’ championship. Williams were slipping into a long decline: they lost their BMW engine supply at the end of 2005 and Webber was seldom even in contention for podiums.

A rare highlight was the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix. Webber sensationally qualified on the front row – aided by Michael Schumacher’s infamous escapade at Rascasse – and spent much of the race in a battle for the lead with Alonso and Raikkonen until his Cosworth engine expired.

At the end of the season, the Williams-Webber partnership that had promised so much came to an end. Webber made a return of sorts to Jaguar – the Milton Keynes-based team having since been bought by Red Bull. It was a momentous decision for Webber’s career and unlike the Renault snub it proved to be the correct one.

2007 European Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2007Given their current dominance of Grand Prix racing, it is easy to forget that when Webber joined Red Bull in 2007, the team was an unremarkable midfield squad which had managed just three podiums in its first four seasons.

Webber’s first of many visits to the rostrum for the Austrian team, at the 2007 European Grand Prix, was one of only three points finishes he managed all season.

Sixth on the grid matched his best effort in qualifying so far that year, and Webber kept his footing during an early race downpour which caught out several of his rivals. Following another late shower he resisted pressure from Alexander Wurz to finish a fine third.

It was his second visit to an F1 podium. But his return to the Nurburgring two years later would bring even better things.

2007 Japanese Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Fuji, 2007After six years of underachievement and misfortune, it finally seemed that things were going Webber’s way as the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix at a sodden Fuji entered its final stages.

Running second behind the Safety Car, the Red Bull driver was aware that the only man standing between him and a long awaited maiden Grand Prix victory, Lewis Hamilton, was closing on the world championship crown and would be unlikely to risk that if he came under attack.

Unfortunately, we’ll never know how that battle may have turned out. On lap 46 of 67, a young German rookie driving for Toro Rosso – Sebastian Vettel, of course – drove into the back of Webber’s RB3, destroying the rear of the car and with it any hopes of a famous win.

“It’s kids isn’t it?” Webber famously lamented on live television minutes later, “they’re doing a good job then they fuck it all up”. Although this was initially interpreted as a comment about Vettel, Webber recently indicated Hamilton was at least as much a focus of his fury.

2009 German Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2009It took almost two years before Webber was presented with another opportunity to win. In ther meantime, Red Bull had been transformed from run-of-the-mill midfielders to the class of the field, and for the first time Webber had a car with which he could challenge for wins.

Unfortunately for Webber, his fellow custodian of Adrian Newey’s rocketships was the soon-to-be quadruple world champion, Vettel. He had given Red Bull their first victory just three races into the season and was quickly developing into their star driver.

But the 2009 German Grand Prix at the Nurburgring was to be Webber’s day. Starting from pole position for the first time, he overcame a drive through penalty for a first lap misdemeanour to claim a comfortable win in his 130th race start.

2010 Spanish Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Barcelona, 2010Though it’s undeniable Vettel had the beating of Webber in each of the five seasons they spent together at Red Bull, the 2010 season saw Webber give his team mate a serious run for his money.

The 2010 season was clearly Webber’s best. His fortunes changed for the better: while Vettel was vexed by a defective chassis Webber made hay and built the foundations of a serious championship challenge early in the year.

His season – and probably his entire F1 career – peaked with back-to-back, lights-to-flag wins in Spain and Monaco. At the Circuit de Catalunya, Webber crossed the line 24 seconds clear of his nearest challenger to truly stamp his authority on the 2010 season.

2010 Monaco Grand Prix

Start, Monte-Carlo, 2010 Monaco Grand PrixOne week later at the Monaco Grand Prix, Webber was again peerless. He comfortably out-qualified Vettel to take pole position, and survived a tumultuous, Safety Car-disrupted race to top the podium once again.

The win also elevated Webber to the top of the point tables for the first time in his career, and he remained in the running for the title until the final round.

Perhaps as memorable as the race itself were the images of Red Bull’s celebrations atop their lavish floating motorhome. But two weeks later Red Bull’s delerium was replaced by animosity when the pair collided on-track, forcing the team to confront the peculiar challenges of having two drivers competing for the same championship.

2011 Chinese Grand Prix

Rubens Barrichello, Narian Karthikeyan, Mark Webber, Shanghai, 2011The transformation of F1 racing brought about by the introduction of DRS and Pirelli tyres for the 2011 season had a disastrous effect on Webber’s performances. Having been quite evenly matched with Vettel in their first two years together at Red Bull, between 2011 and 2013 Webber managed a trio of victories to his team mate’s 29.

But on his day the Australian remained capable of memorable performances, as he ably demonstrated at Shanghai in 2011.

Newey’s refusal to compromise Red Bull’s peerless aerodynamics with too many compromises to a Kinetic Energy Recovery System has caused his drivers many headaches. On this occasion a defective KERS kept Webber from progressing beyond Q1 on Saturday.

Despite a sluggish start – another trait of Webber’s latter years – he rocketed up the order after the first round of pit stops, making a series of overtakes en route to an unexpected third place finish.

Even then, Webber was unimpressed. He admitted after the race his progression through the field had been eased by the fresh tyres he had available to him after his premature qualifying exit, and claimed to derive little satisfaction from the DRS assisted moves he made on his competitors. It hinted at the disillusionment which would ultimately play a role in his decision to quit F1 two years later.

2012 British Grand Prix

Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Sebastian Vettel, Silverstone, 2012Though success in Australia usually eluded him, Webber had a brilliant record in his adopted home Great Britain, taking five podiums and two wins at Silverstone.

While his first victory on the Northamptonshire circuit in 2010 owed a lot to Vettel’s first-lap puncture, two years later Webber took a fine victory at the track, catching and passing race leader Alonso with less than three laps to go after a race long chase.

It was Webber’s second win in four races, following his second win on the streets of Monaco two months earlier, consolidating his position above Vettel in the championship and bringing him within 13 points of championship leader Alonso.

But if Webber briefly entertained thoughts of challenging for the championship he was to be disappointed once more. Vettel overcame his mid-season struggles and went on to clinch the title, while Webber only finished in front of his team mate once more in his remaining season-and-a-half before retirement.

Despite his drop-off in performance in recent years, Webber’s departure from F1 last weekend was anything but ignominious. While he wasn’t, by his own admission, a consistent match for the likes of Vettel and Alonso, Webber established himself not only as a top driver but a uniquely popular character, in both the paddock and the grandstands.

Over to you

Which was your favourite of Mark Webber’s F1 performances? Are there any other drives from his pre-F1 days that deserve a mention? Have your say in the comments below.

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Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2013

Take the F1 Fanatic Mark Webber quiz

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2013Mark Webber has bowed out of Formula One after 215 races.

How well do you remember his Formula One career? This new F1 Fanatic quiz covers his 12 years in F1 from beginning to end.

Put your knowledge to the test now:

If you’ve not taken one of our quizzes before, have a quick look at this quick guide first:

You can take more quizzes here:

If you don’t already have one, you will need to register an F1 Fanatic account to participate in the quizzes. Details on how to get one can be found below:

How did you get on? Share your score in the comments – but remember not to leave clues about the questions!

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Mark Webber, Williams, 2005

Caption Competition 38: Mark Webber special

Mark Webber, Williams, 2005

Our second Mark Webber Caption Competition is a blast from the past which takes us back to his Williams days.

Post your funniest suggestion for a caption below and a pick of the best will appear in a future round-up.

We’ve got one more Mark Webber Caption Competition coming up soon and you can tackle the first one here.

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Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Interlagos, 2012

Vettel’s dominance of Webber shocks Schumacher

Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher, Interlagos, 2012Michael Schumacher says he’s glad he doesn’t have Sebastian Vettel for a team mate after the Red Bull driver’s dominant form against team mate Mark Webber.

Schumacher praised Vettel for a “very consistent” season after taking his fourth championship title.

Look at his team mate,” said Schumacher, “that’s your reference point that you’ve got to take”.

“I mean [Vettel] won all those races, 13 this year I think. Mark Webber he won none in the end, if I’m right. That’s pretty shocking. I’m glad I’m not his team mate!”

Vettel equalled Schumacher’s record for scoring the most wins in a single season this year. “I’m really happy for him and if somebody can break all these records then I’d prefer him to be than somebody else,” said Schumacher.

The seven-times champion added he doubts the overhaul of the engine rules next year will lead to a massive shake-up in the competitive order.

“I think you shouldn’t expect too many changes because of the engine,” he said. “Aerodynamics always out-play the engine, it will always be in future.”

“So the better car, the better package in the end will win. Yes if you have two identical package then the better engine might play a difference. We know that Mercedes has always been on the top side on the engine side.”

2013 F1 season


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Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2013

Webber “proud” of career after second in last race

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2013Mark Webber said he felt pride in his achievements as a Formula One driver after finishing on the podium in his final race.

Webber took second place in the Brazilian Grand Prix behind team mate Sebastian Vettel. It was his last race before he joins Porsche in the World Endurance Championship next year.

“It was a very good finish to my career,” said Webber. “A good fight with all the guys I enjoyed fighting with for most of my career: Seb, Fernando [Alonso], Lewis [Hamilton], Nico [Rosberg], all the guys which have been in the window for the last five or six years.”

“I want to thank the team, I enjoyed the last few laps,” he added. “It was a very nice way for me to finish.”

“I want to thank everyone in Australia, I wouldn’t be here where I am without the support I had in the early days and it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable career. A great journey, one which I’m proud of. And there’s been so many people who’ve played a special role in my career, so they know who they all are – thankyou very much if you’re watching.

“Enjoy watching Formula One next year with these guys. But off to Porsche, looking forward to it, thank you very much.”

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix

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