F1 drivers are pretty selfish individuals more likely to stamp on the fingers of another driver climbing the ladder, than help them.
So when I read a story about how Mark Webber helped out fellow Australian driver Will Power, it struck a chord.
The trigger for the story is that while Webber leads the F1 drivers’ championship Power is now emulating him and is on top of the Indycar standings in the US with four wins, driving for the Penske team.
“I can’t tell you exactly why he helped me out, but if he didn’t think it was worth it, he wouldn’t have,” said Power in Canada’s Globe and Mail.
“But he’d been through exactly the same thing as me trying to find sponsorship and getting back to racing.”
Webber was helped in 1997, at a critical stage in his development by Australian rugby star David Campese, who gave him £50,000 to keep racing in the UK. “Campo” had played rugby with Webber’s father, Alan.
“I was fortunate enough to have a few key people support me just at the right time — like David Campese — to keep my dream alive, so when I was in a position to do the same for someone else, I did, ” said Webber.
“ It’s fantastic to see Will’s hard work and determination finally pay off for him — I’m glad we were able to give him a little boost when he needed it. It was a make-or-break time for him but I could see how determined he was not to give up and go home.
“Maybe he’ll be in a position to re-pay the favour to someone else coming up through the ranks one day.”
Webber is now helping out 16 year old New Zealand racer Mitch Evans, who is competing in Australian F3. He also has a stake in a GP3 team.
I’m sure Webber’s not the only driver who has helped another, but we have had quite a few comments lately on the site talking about karma; Webber mentioned it himself at Silverstone, where he felt that his win on Sunday was a payback for the wing swap episode on Saturday.
When I saw this Jeff Pappone story on the Globe and Mail site, one of the leading papers in Canada, I wondered whether Webber’ whole 2010 season is is in some way a karma payback.
I like the idea of drivers putting something back. It would be great to see drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, who have had sustained backing to get them to the top, do the same. Perhaps they already have.
But it would be a shame if drivers relied on thinking that the kind of backing Hamilton and Vettel had is out there and so contributions like Webber’s aren’t necessary.
Think of it as an investment in the karma bank.