One possible reason why Mark Webber’s form in the crucial final four races of the season declined is a fractured shoulder from yet another mountain bike accident, shortly before the Japanese Grand Prix.
The 34 year old travelled back to Australia after the Singapore Grand Prix and went out on a mountain bike ride when he injured himself again. He was following a friend who fell and with nowhere to go, Webber crashed into him and fractured his shoulder.
It is what is known as a “skier’s fracture”, because the most common reason for that type of break is a tumble when skiing. It lies quite deep in the joint and although it sounds dramatic it’s quite a fine fracture. The problem is it cannot be treated.
“I was riding with a great friend of mine. Suddenly, he crashed right in front of me and I had nowhere to go but straight through the ears of the horse!
“I suffered what they call a skier’s fracture to my right shoulder,” writes Webber.
He did not tell Red Bull team boss Christian Horner or anyone else in the team, aside from his trainer Roger Cleary and FIA doctor Gary Hartstein. He was given cortisone injections before driving in Japan and Korea.
At the time he was leading the world championship, with 202 points, 21 ahead of Fernando Alonso and 31 ahead of eventual champion Sebastian Vettel.
It was the second fractured shoulder Webber has suffered in the last two years. In November 2008 he suffered shoulder and leg injuries in a mountain bike accident in Tasmania. Ironically this new incident was the first time he had been on a mountain bike since the Tasmania accident.
Although not the typical Red Bull athlete in terms of his general demeanour and dress sense, Webber seems to typify the breed more than most in terms of taking part in risky extreme sports.
Despite the injury, Webber managed to finish second in Japan and Brazil, but a crash in Korea and an off colour performance in Abu Dhabi lost him the championship to Vettel. I’m told that Webber does not feel that the injury was an excuse for not making the grade in the end.
Nevertheless it was a ‘season to remember’ with wins in Spain, Monaco, Silverstone and Hungary.
When he said recently that he would take the drivers’ title next season, he was probably thinking about how he would perform without the shoulder injury he had kept quiet.
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