Born: 27th August 1976
Birthplace: Queanbeyan, Australia
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After starting his career in Australia racing Formula Ford and Formula F4000, Mark Webber came over to Britain in 1996 and won the Formula Ford Festival.
In 1997 he raced in British Formula Three, finishing the year fourth for Alan Docking Racing. He joined Mercedes for 1998 to contest the FIA GT championship and was runner-up with five wins.
Webber got his first F1 test with Arrows the following year and also tested for European Racing, who he would join in Formula 3000 the following year.
On his official website Webber lists six moments to remember and a single ‘forgettable moment’ – Le Mans 1999. He contested the 24-hour race for Mercedes but was fortunate to escape without serious injury after two shocking crashes in practices, both caused by instability in the CLK racing car. Mercedes withdrew during the race after Peter Dumbreck suffered a similar accident, flipping on the main straight at 200mph.
After that he switched back to single-seater racing and won his second F3000 race in Silverstone. He ended the year third and was second in 2001 Super Nova, scoring three wins, but was 32 points behind Justin Wilson.
He got his F1 break the following season with Minardi, which was owned by fellow Australian Paul Stoddart. It was an emotional day when Webber made his debut at home in Melbourne, finishing an unlikely fifth after a first-lap crash wiped out most of the field.
He demonstrated his strength in qualifying in his third race for Jaguar, starting third on the grid at Sepang – a feat he repeated at the Hungaroring later that year.
Jaguar slipped back in 2004, Webber scoring just seven points – ten fewer than he had in 2003.
Ford lost interest in the team and sold them to Red Bull while Webber, against the advice of manager Flavio Briatore, signed for Williams.
Williams too were on a downward spiral and would lose their BMW engine supply at the end of the year. Webber ended the year 10th with 36 points.
The following season with Cosworth power was a disaster. The car was unreliable and Webber retired from top three positions at Melbourne and Monte-Carlo. At the end of the season he had scored just seven points.
For 2007 he returned to the last team he had raced for – now run by Red Bull and benefiting from a substantial injection of cash. Webber partnered the experienced David Coulthard but the 2007 Red Bull (the first to be designed by Adrian Newey) proved very unreliable – and Webber bore the brunt of the problems.
But he also seized the chance to shine, regularly qualified well (usually beating Coulthard by a comfortable margin), was third at the Nurburgring and was running second at Fuji until he was taken out by Sebastian Vettel during a safety car period.
In their second season together Webber decisively had the upper hand over Coulthard. He regularly brought the RB4 home in the lower points positions early in the season, peaking at fourth in the wet at Monte-Carlo.
As the car fell off the pace later in the season Webber could only look on as future team mate Vettel scored his maiden win at Monza in the rain for Toro Rosso. But Webber had only himself to blame for losing his most promising starting position of the year, second at Silverstone, which he threw away with a spin on the first lap.
After several years with uncompetitive or unreliable cars, Webber finally had a car capable of fighting for wins in 2009. But a broken leg sustained during his annual ‘Pure Tasmania Challenge’ put his season in jeopardy.
He was passed fit to race in the first round at Melbourne, but a noticeable limp showed that despite his recuperation he was still suffering the after-efforts. His efforts in front of his home crowd were in vain in as a collision with Rubens Barrichello on the first lap ruined his race.
The pair made contact on the opening lap at the Nurburgring as well, and this time Webber was handed a penalty. He shrugged it off and won the race anyway, finally tasting victory after a 130-race wait – the longest any driver has taken to score his first win.
It was a useful result for Webber who was facing the toughest team mate of his career to date in Sebastian Vettel. Following his Nurburgring win Webber briefly held second in the drivers’ championship. But a series of missed opportunities, due to a combination of driver and team errors plus unreliability, saw Webber fall to fourh by the end of the season.
However he ended the season well with a second win at Interlagos and a battling second place at Yas Marina, holding off an attack from newly-crowned champion Jenson Button on the final lap.
A pair of wins at Spain and Monaco put Webber in the joint lead of the drivers’ championship with Vettel.
But the pair collided while disputing the lead of the Turkish Grand Prix. While Vettel failed to finish, Webber made it home third and took the lead of the drivers’ championship.
Despite controversy over the incident, particularly as Red Bull management initially blamed Webber for a collision which was widely blamed on Vettel, Red Bull announced the following week Webber would be retained for 2011.
Webber kept the pressure on Vettel with wins in Barcelona, Monaco, Silverstone and at the Hungaroring. He took the lead in the championship but heading into the closing races of the season his title campaign went off the rails.
A crash at Korea saw him lose the championship lead to Fernando Alonso. He went into the final round still in contention for the championship he could only finish seventh while Vettel snatched the title with a win.
Webber later revealed he had driven the last four races of the year with a shoulder fracture incurred during a mountain biking accident, but said it had not affected his performance in the final Grands Prix.
While Vettel scored a second consecutive championship victory in emphatic fashion, Webber often struggled to keep up with his young team mate.
He generally qualified behind Vettel – although he did take a trio of pole positions – and often had trouble getting his RB7 off the line quickly.
A typical 2011 race would see Vettel pulling away at the front while Webber fought his way onto the podium. He claimed a single win at Brazil, the final race of the year, after Vettel suffered a rare gearbox failure.
It was a similar situation the following year as Vettel picked up another championship title. But Webber enjoyed a more successful season in the RB8, repeating his previous victories at Monaco and Silverstone.
Following the latter his signed an extension on his contract to drive for Red Bull. His championship hopes faltered as he suffered technical problems in some races, though it wasn’t until the penultimate race in the United States that one caused a retirement.
By then he was out of contention for the championship once more, though he continued to race Vettel hard until the final round.
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