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Mark Webber: Success better late than never
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Mark Webber: Success better late than never
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 May 2010   |  11:31 am GMT  |  175 comments

I’ve been thinking about Mark Webber’s recent success and it struck me that ‘older driver makes good’ is such a positive storyline for Formula 1.

In two successive seasons we have seen the phenomenon of drivers in the later stages of their careers finding success; Jenson Button and Mark Webber. Both have seen their careers revitalized when it looked like the sands of time might be starting to run out for them.

What makes it doubly positive is that It hasn’t happened for a while and it goes against the prevailing trend of gilded youth in sport.

In the last decade, F1 has been dominated by drivers who were successful pretty much from the start of their F1 careers, drivers like Alonso, Hamilton, Schumacher and Raikkonen.

F1 has always had drivers who spend the bulk of their careers pushing water uphill in uncompetitive cars. Many never get the wins they were so certain they would have on their way up the ladder. Instead they make up the numbers, picking up the odd podium along the way and then get dumped out of the sport in favour of a younger driver.

Meanwhile the hot young things, the Alonsos, Hamiltons and Vettels, are groomed by driver development programmes, come into F1 in competitive cars and leapfrog the older pros.

Drivers like Button and Webber must have felt that their opportunity would never come. The concept of a ‘long in the tooth’ driver, considered a ‘journeyman’ by many who gets a winning car and suddenly dominates provides a nice counterpoint to the ‘thrilling rookie’ storyline we have become used to.

Webber is reminding me of Nigel Mansell at the moment. Both had obvious speed, but struggled for consistency until one day in their early 30s they were given a competitive car and they went out and made maximum use of it.

Like Webber, Mansell was 32 when he started winning races. He won two races in 1985 and then was a title contender the following year with Williams, only losing out at the final race. Webber looks like he may emulate that pattern and who knows where the story might end? The Red Bull is the fastest car out there and he’s got some real momentum going. It will take a mighty effort by his team mate Vettel or someone like Alonso to get on top of him.

Although quite different characters, Webber and Mansell are both old school racers. They share a warrior spirit and now that Webber has unlocked the secret of dominating a race weekend, locking out pole position and leading from the front in the race, not giving the opposition a chance, he has the chance to emulate Mansell and Button and go on to become a champion.

As with both of those drivers, many people doubted that Webber had it in him to do this. What makes it very interesting is that within Red Bull, certainly the Austrian side of the company, the weight is behind Vettel.

He is the product of the expensive driver development programme, he’s the one with the most pictures on the website and Webber is there to push him hard. If he gets beaten by the ‘journeyman’ what does that say about him and the huge investment in his development programme?

The team said this week that it found some damage on Vettel’s chassis after Monaco, which possibly accounts for him not being on Webber’s pace in the last two races. It must have been subtle damage as Vettel managed to set the fastest lap in the closing stages of the Monaco race.

But psychologically for the team the new chassis is a page turner; there had to be some other reason why he was being beaten by the other guy and now the pressure is really on Vettel to regain the initiative.

He outpaced Webber in Turkey and Silverstone last season and I think the British Grand Prix in particular is set up to be a landmark event, as the Red Bull will be untouchable due to its prowess in fast corners and so we will see a battle for supremacy between these two fine drivers. Vettel got the upper hand last year, if he fails to do so this year the pendulum may stick on Webber’s side.

Vettel is a huge talent and his time will certainly come. This is Webber’s one chance and it looks like he’s figured out how to make the most of it.

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I am very happy for Webber, he is a great guy, he deserves all the success. However he has had a few great races so far, let`s just wait and see where this all develops. Raikkonen (4x winner in Spa, always front runner in Monaco even with a scrappy car), Alonso, Schumacher, Hamilton all have had many fantastic moments, at the moment I wouldn`t say Webber is member of this group, not yet.


In the Monaco race you are talking about (2006) where was Webber? Where did Webber qualify? Do you know that Webber out qualified Kimi and had more fuel then both Alonso and Kimi? The 2006 Williams was worse then the 2006 McLaren which you described as scrappy.


I refered to the 2009 Ferrari. I also have in mind a quite long period of time when Kimi had been fighting for wins and podiums despite the fact that the Macca let him down, I think 6 times in a year. He just went home and came back stronger without complaining. You do not need to defend Webber, because I higly rate him. Otherwise I don`t have the time to look through all the statistics, so no I don`t know is my answer.


Webber never had a car that he deserved. Went to Williams who should have built him a decent car but they just went down hill. Loving this year.


Vettel looked a very dejected figure during the press conferences of Qualiy and post race. He looked as though he could not believe what Webber was doing. He needs to put in a good performance in the next two races.


It makes you question drivers and if their reputation (good or bad) is worthy of their skills? Look at Kobayashi in the Toyota at the end of 2009. He was a real delight and a promising star, yet slap him into a not up to scratch Sauber and he's not achieving. Its a real shame that cars and management are the real barometers of success in F1. I suspect Bruno Senna is finished in F1, remaining at HRT, if the team even continue? Its a shame that we cant see what he would be like in a decent car. One thing I quite like about Indycar and NASCAR (It's petty good) is the cars are standardised. Its proper racing in some respects



I might be biased toward Marcos Ambrose as an Australian, but I don't think there much that is standardised in NASCAR. Many developments that teams come up with get blocked, but engine development is one area that allows the big teams to dominate. IRL is much closer to being a spec formula.


Damon too had a terrible tail-end start (with Brabham), but luckily already had a test job at Williams. Similarly, there are probably reasons for some of the guys in the slowest cars not to be forgotten. Chandok represents India, Senna has the name, Kobayashi is the Japanese focus. These promotional considerations give them staying power beyond their personal skill and luck.


I wouldn't write Bruno off just yet... There have been any number of drivers who started their F1 careers in back row teams who have gone on to greatness.

The problem that many rookies have had in recent years is that they don't get enough time in the car to prove how good they are (Toro Rosso has stuck with drivers longer than most other teams and its paying off for them). This is only exasperated by the ban on testing and limited track time that some of these new drivers are getting. It still staggers me to think that the HST car had never run before the 1st GP this season and that Chandruk hadn't even turned the wheel before qualifying started.

F1 needs to give rookies and new teams more testing time to allow them to acclimatise to the sport and become competitive.


I totally agree, Andy, this lack of track time for rookies is incomprehendable and dangerous!



Except Lewis, every F1 pilot have started in a secondary team. Usually a goodfather as big as Ron is difficult to be found/merited.


Not only.

…"the Alonsos, Hamiltons and Vettels, … come into F1 in competitive cars and leapfrog the older pros."

Alonso started in Minardi, now Toro Rosso. Schuemi, not mentioned, in Benneton. Were these competitive cars when they started?


Yes. The Benneton was.

Stephen Harper

But Lewis in first year beat a two-time world champion. The only other person who did that in history was Michael Schumacher - who beat Nelson Piquet, a three-times world champion. I think that is mighty impressive don't you think?

Andrew (in Melbourne)

Lewis only "beat" Alonso on a count back. They finished the season with 109 points each.


Schuey beat Piquet in the final half-dozen races of a long career. Piquet was still mildly competitive, but don't make him out to be same force he was a half-decade earlier.


I'm sick and tired of comments like this - Hamilton did indeed start in a top team however he certainly isn't the only one to have had a smooth ride to a top team. Heikki Kovalainen, who Hamilton trounced, walked into a Renault team that had won the World Championship the previous two years, Alonso spent one year at the back of the grid before being fast-tracked into an upcoming Renault team and Schumacher also waltzed into a car capable of competing.

Sure Hamilton's been fortunate to find himself in a competitive car from day one however he is by no means the only one, nor would it matter one jot if he were not good enough to make the most of it, as Kovalainen failed to do. Drivers like Hamilton and Alonso often get to the top via a much quicker and smoother path than everyone else, precisely because they are the best, just accept it and get over it.


Matt S, your examples are weak. For some reason Hamilton fans need to believe that Lewis is some otherworldly talent. He is THE ONLY driver in modern F1 history to be gifted a top line car in his first year. Kovaleinen going to Renault is no comparison. Renault were on the downside of their two competitive seasons when he arrived. Alonso spent more than a year in uncompetitive machinery. Schumi arrived at Bennetton before they were in a position to win. In fact, Alonso and Schumi played enormous roles in developing the cars for their respective teams and thus putting them into position to win. Hamilton has done no such thing and this year it's Button that is leading that team. Like it or not, that's what's up. Hamilton will never get the props his fans think he deserves until he can show he has the skill to develop a car into a winner. That's why you hear so many people refer to Alonso as a "complete" driver. Time will tell if LH has that sort of talent.


Not particularly a Hamilton fan, but even though he did start in a great car, he also beat his team mate in the first year who happened to be a double world champion.

Lucky to get the drive, maybe, but he showed he was worthy of it; much like Schumacher.


Jesh! Does every damn topic have to come back to Lewis Hamilton?


Be as sick as you like, but Lewis got a prime car first year whilst others didn't. And, this is not to undermine any talent. Read again my post, if you please.


Mark is a real "bloke" - gotta love his straight talking honesty and integrity.

In the past, he's been trying to push wannabe cars around the track and suffered from ill-luck and (as a result) inconsistency.

Great to see him in a good car that can match his latent talent.

Whoever wins the WDC this year, they'll be a worthy winner.

A competitive season and even if the WDC is a Red Bull driver, they will at least have had to beat a tough team mate.


I've always liked Webber since he came into F1, his no-nonsense attitude is refreshing in a world all to full of corporate muppets!!

Whilst I'm supporting Button and Hamilton this year, I would be delighted for Mark is he was able to clinch the title and of the 2 Red Bull Racing drivers, I would rather it be Mark than Vettel!!


Me Too.

Webber bangs in a pole position, gets out of the car, smiles and says bring on the race. He is a classy driver.

Vetel gets pole, runs around shaking one finger in the air saying I am the best, dry humping mechanics left right and centre . It is embarrasing. Win the race before you go off like some sort of teenager on Viagra.

For the record. Webber has consistanly done very well at Monaco and equally consistantly been let down by his car. This result shouldn't have been a surprise to Vetel.

Vetel is a talent and undoubtly a star in the making. I just hope Webber shows his class and whips him this season.


Me tooooo, Adrian!



Add me as a ditto to these comments too. That's exactly how I feel.


Potsie to win! The WDC... and every event to the end of the year.

Well the WDC will do, but mind f**ng his teammate by more dominant performances like Spain & Monaco will help get that job done!

"Potsie" = Warren Webber from Happy Days was called "Potsie" remember "Sit on it Potsie" with the Fonz 🙂

Go Potsie!!


That sounds like a special kind of acid trip you're on, mate. Webber's hubris won't last...


Although I think Webber is a top drawer driver, it's easy to forget his earlier races. He doesn't seem to handle being overtaken or struggling behind someone else very well. There have been many times this season where the red mist has got the better of him (I think it was China where he was all over the place? Very poor drive)

Harriet and Blah Blah Nyborg

Yeah, agreed. As Webber supporting, I will concede that his weakness is a penchant for being too aggressive. Both Australia and China this year has shown this. It's worth noting that all four of Webber's victories have been when leading from the front, with the slight exception of Brazil 09 where he started 2nd and had to get past Barrichello. But once past he was gone.

So, ideally I'd love to Webber take another couple of victories this year starting 5th or 6th on the grid and fighting his way past. It's one thing to take lights-to-flag wins in a terrific car, and another entirely to do what Button's done this year in Australia and China (the races, coincidentally, in which Webber had his poorest results.


When in the last few years has anyone in a low drop out race won from 5th or 6th. The much revered Alonso couldn't pass anyone after he got passed the newbies in Monaco.

Blame the tracks, aero and the tyres, not the drivers. The Red Bulls weakness because it is so aero efficent is that it does not follow other cars well. I like people expecting things that don't happen. How many GP'S has Alonso or Schumacher won from 5th or 6th. Only happens in rain or crashes.

Webber has proven heaps of times in the wet he can overtake. He does it as much as anyone else in the dry.

Harriet and Blah Blah Nyborg

Fair point.

Even when F1's at its best, the winner usually comes from the first two rows, rather third or fourth (and then only if it's wet).

Believe me, I know Webber can pass! He did a hell of a lot of it in Melbourne in tricky conditions, though blighted that with the Liberace he did on Hamilton a few laps at the end.


Yes statistically he won from pole at the nurburgring, but remember the drive through penalty. That wasn't a straight-forward win.

Harriet and Blah Blah Nyborg

Ah, you're right. The win in Germany was actually made more remarkable considering the drive-through penalty. I'd forgotten that.

But, still, I think my originally point still holds water (though a little leaky!) because Webber has never won from behind. When he got that drive-through he was still either first or second on the road and came out after the pit stops still ahead, due, admittedly, to his incredible speed that day.


Ozzi Grit!


At first matt I read your post as Ozzie git. Lol

tricks of the mind.

I'm a jb fan but loving seeing mark building a head of steam. He strikes me as a straight down the line guy and if a redbull is to finish first I'd love mark to be the wdc champ.


here, here


Where, where?


James, you say that Red Bull should dominate Silverstone, as the circuit suits their strengths. Could the same not be said about Turkey (perhaps to a lesser extend) with it's high speed corners?


I can remember jumping up and on on the coach when Webber won in Nurburgring last year. I couldn't have been happier for him and its great to see him driving so confidently and successfully after all though those years of bad luck. So many times he missed out due to reliability issues in the cars he drove and lots of bad luck.

Though it's still early days, but I would love to see Webber continue to rack the wins, end up win the drivers title and then watch Vettel have another sook.


I mean no disrespect to Webber but I personally think it is no coincidence that the 2 times he outraces Vettel is because he had a problem with the chassis. Webber was no match for Vettel last season nor at the beginning of this season. Now everybody is talking about Webber, lets see the next 2 races and everybody will see what Im talking about

David Turnedge

I actually think Webber has unlocked something in his weekend routine... Vettel was beaten soundly in Spain and Monaco and he looked like he knew it... Turkey is a good circuit for Vettel but if Webber continues beating him, bad luck aside, I think we're seeing Webber lift his game.

For all us Aussies... finally...


Every challenged team driver gets his "chassis damage moment" just once. If you look back on the races this year you would have to admit that Webber and Vettel have been very close .. 3 poles for Vettel and 3 poles for Webber. Mark's poles are by a much larger gap than Vettel's and the way Red Bull do it, teammates don't race after turn 1. In essence much of the race is the pole race. So yes, we'll see but be prepared to be surprised just in case Webber continues his hot streak. BTW, is it true that Vettel's chassis was so damaged that only set fast lap of race? My that is one damaged chassis!


I don't know how Webber/Vettel's times compared at that stage, but maybe Vettel pushed on low fuel while Webber was cruising with a bit of a lead? 1 or 2 tenths worth of damaged chassis doesn't mean he couldn't get fastest lap. In my lowly opinion anyway.

It's easy to speculate I suppose, as Anthony said - lets wait a couple races to find out. I do hope that Webber continues to fight Vettel for the championship though.


Vettel doesn't get the advantage Webber got with the lighter chassis because his driver weight is already so much lower. Look at the balance issue at Mercedes. Webber has been behind Vettel by a few hundredths ever since he joined RBR due to Vettel's lighter weight and his ability to shift ballast around where Mark was stuck. Webber could only take advantage of the new regulations on higher minimum weight for heavy drivers when they gave him the chassis. It didn't seem to pay in Melbourne for whatever reason, looked good in Malaysia qualifying (but they weren't head-on-head) and then Vettel did that kerb riding and smacking bit in Shanghai where Webber seemed to be conservative according to what he thought was best for the car. I reckon Webber when fit has always been faster over a lap than Vettel, and if you look at the passes (versus getting stuck behind the car in front endlessly) Webber has also had Vettel down to rights. Best passes of 2009 had Webber featured right at the top in a car that was worst at following in the whole field. Bring on Istanbul! Interms of team bias thank god RBR haven't got a Brawn in the team.

Harriet and Blah Blah Nyborg

Horner has clarified that the chasis problem became an issue during the Monaco race, and even then only a minor problem as is evidenced by the fact that Vettel still put in a fastest lap.

Drivers will change their chasis a number of times throughout the year, so this change for Vettel isn't exactly out of the norm.

And to say that Webber has been "no match" for Vettel prior to Spain. I think that's too strong. With the exception of Bahrain where Webber made that error in Q3 and only qualified 6th, he's been either 1 or 2 every time since and, when dry and the circumstances "normal" (ie no variable weather) then Vettel and Webber have been within a tenth or two of each other. I'd hardly say that was being "no match."

C'mon, guys. There's no reason to put down another driver with such hyperbole just to bolster the reputation of the driver you support!

Webber and Vettel are both excellent drivers. Full stop.


Bloody well said!


Anthony I dont think the chassis was such a big issue, more like redbull trying to rebuild the confidence of their young star by blaming his poor performance compared to his teammate to the car. As for last season didnt Webber start the season with a broken leg and collar broke, which might explain for some of the performance deficit.

I agree with you that it is too early to be talking up Webbers WDC hopes as the season has a very long way to go.


As with all success stories, it’s largely about being in the right place at the right time; or in this case, the right car and team. Alonso for example stepped into the Renault just as they hit a sweet spot and became the fastest car on the grid. With his immense talent and a great team/car they won two world championships. It's all about timing.


Absolutely right. No matter how good you are, being in the right place at the right time is what separates world champs from runners up.

I wish mark all the best, and if one of the mclarens don't win I'd love to see him win it.


I have to admit always have had a soft spot for Webber, so maybe you could say I've been a long term fan. The guy has spent so much time in mid pack cars that it's inspiring to see him pick up on this opportunity and make the most of it.


I think your comparison with Mansell is a good one.

What was telling for Mansell was that he had to feel loved by the team and unless he felt he had a fair crack at being the number 1 driver in the team, his performance would dip and some times he would become anonymous throughout the race weekend.

This will be a key element for Webber's success. Like you mention in your article, Vettle, while not officially is seen as the prize driver in the team. Red bull have to decide if they are happy to allow Webber have that environment to succeed but at the price of upsetting Vettle

When Webber is on it, he is up there and I hope for the good of the 2010 season that Red Bull allow both drivers a fair crack at the championship.


Chassis damage eh? Sounds odd to me.

Webber's path to F1 is something we are not likely to see anymore now with so many young driver programmes etc.

He is there based purely upon talent, even if the world wide web of F1 experts banging away on the thousands of forums don't appreciate him.

He loves the Milton Keynes team, it is his spiritual home and any man who could put that god awful Jaguar on the front row has some serious driving chops.

He's fit, happy, has a great car & team around him and for the first time in his career he probably feels that he doesn't have to prove himself to anyone. All he has to do is drive.


There's a bit more to Mark getting to Formula 1 than just talent. Alan Docking and Paul Stoddart were two Australians willing to give him drives in Europe. Docking took him on even though Mark's sponsorship was less than many. Once there he did enough to impress Norbert Haug and get a paid drive in sports cars. Effectively lost out to Zonta in 98 and did nothing except test a dodgy Le Mans car in 99. Stoddart rescued him with an F3000 drive in 2000 and gave him an F1 drive in 2002. Somewhere in this period he signed up with Briatore and that got him a Bennetton testing role. It was also useful having a dad who'd fund a go-karting hobby...

As someone who has followed Mark since he was in Formula Ford in Australia (Queanbeyan is close enough to Canberra for him to be a local driver), I've seen Mark display considerable talent, but he has also worked the management side better than many other Australians. James Courtney and Ryan Briscoe had more impressive F3 records for example.

In Mark's case he got decent drives, but Monaco is something like his 14th win since the start of 1997. In comparison someone like Hamilton had much more experience on winning car races before he arrived in F1 as McLaren money had him in a top car. Hamilton got that because his talent was recognised (in a way that would never happen outside of Western Europe) and he kept beating his team mate.


I think it's wishful thinking.

Vettel had mechanical problems Webber didn't have, he would be at least 128 points...of course, one can say if if if all they want, but still. Webber did not beat Vettel.

The last 2 races, we today find out, Vettel was driving with a car that had problems with it's chassis which is why Vettel could not set it up properly and never responded the way he wanted. Again the last 2 races, which is where Webber took all the prizes.

So, if Vettel didn't have all these mechanical problems, no one would be talking about Webber.

We will see in Turkey what Vettel is made of, with a new car he's getting, without the defects of the last 2 races.

Webber is good, but not a Vettel.


what about Malaysia?

Webber was faster but he just lost a place on the start and that was it.

As you say, if if if, so stop diminishing Mark's results just because you like Vettel more.


If HRT suddenly made a huge breakthrough and were 10 seconds faster than the whole field then maybe we would have the 1st Indian world champion!!!

Silly i know, but and if is an if. It is fanciful and is usually tailored to the persons personal preferences and therefore fairly meaningless. Results are what counts not ifs and buts.


I don't like Vettel, I can't stand his PR smile attitude. He is a much better driver than Webber or anyone in the field though. The material let him down.

If someone like me who dislikes Vettel can say that, then it says more about the Webber fanatics who want to portrait this average driver as the new Messiah.

In Malaysia Webber got the pole because of a tire choice at the last moment and Vettel having no time to come in and do the same, nothing else and during the race he lost from Vettel at the start and during the race. So Malaysia proves Vettel is the better driver.

Take away his mechanical problems that Webber never had, and you have Vettel leading comfortably with at least a 50 points gap. In fact, probably close to 100 points, knowing now his chassis problems of the last 2 races made the car not listen to him. Why is that so hard to grasp and concede for some?

I know the answer, and it has to do with his first language not being English. Everyone will deny this but it is a fact that average drivers who are native English speaking get pushed feathers up their bum for their latest only native English speaking fans.

Webber is seen as a clown in most other countries with all his crashing into people like an amateur and then dare whine about others constantly.


So Webber’s career of embarrassing his highly rated teammates reputations and dispatching many of them to the beyond is what ?? Just an average performance ?

Jeez.............. give a bit of credit. The guy can drive and got into F1 through ability as it surely wasn’t from corporate backing from Australia (except bit players, Yellow Pages and Fosters).

As for the if if if’s....

What IF Ford had actually got serious with Jaguar instead of pottering around.

What IF Webber had gone to Renault instead of Williams like he was advised to.

What IF BMW hadn’t pulled the rug out from under Williams to focus on their new team.

And we can add this maybe ......... What IF RedBull wasn’t Austrian owned with a German Driver ?

I think most would agree that he has not had the best equipment or luck in the past but has always made the best of it with little fanfare. So Vettel had mechanical problems ? So what,Webbers had those by the truck full in his career, that’s motor racing.

The saying goes the first person you must beat is your team mate.........TICK,done that !


Merc, I for one would like to know a bit more about the "chassis problem" on Vettel's car. In Monaco he set the fastest lap, if I am not wrong, or one of the fastest, so I would put the "problem" issue on hold for a while.

I think that Webber is faultless this season: no big mistakes, always fast, stays away from trouble or crashes, taking care of the car, the tires and the points, and also always aggressive, always there. To me, that's consistency, something really difficult to achieve. On top, he knows how does it feel to be the second inside the team and seems that he deals better with pressure than Vettel.

In any case, I believe we can safely conclude that RBR have now two very fast cars AND an extremely nice pair of guys to drive them.......




I wont accept Mark Webber and being like Nigel Mansell, until he grows a moustache.

There's not a single fast moustache in F1 these days, and frankly, it's making the place look shabby. Bring back the Mushes, and we'll be in a golden era once again!


How about we sign him up for Movember !

I'm sure he'll go for it.


Ah! That sounds like the beginning of petition!! Genius! 🙂


Jezuz Mathew,I hope not! I'm evan having trouble with some of the drivers who seem to be too lasy to shave on race day! Are they trying to make us think they're 16 again? Or are they suffering from pre-race nerves and shaking too much? If they worked for me I'd make sure they were well groomed when in the spotlight!



Mario Thiessen - a perfect example. Pure evil. Just look what he did to BMW: acting as if he was the man to bring to F1 success while all the time working behind the scenes to put in place policies and practices guaranteed to fail. What's a German doing with an Italian name, anyway? Something fishy going on there.


Paraphrasing Jeremy Clarkson here.....but just one moustache or three like Mansell had?!!


Didn't Norbert Haug have a 'tache until fairly recently? ok, ok, so he's not a driver... and I'm clutching at straws [or should that be clutching at face-hair? ;-)]

So we have James's 'tech-report' and 'decisive moments' etc as regular features... are you suggesting we need a 'tache-watch feature, Matthew H? lol

Seems the fashion these days is a patchy beard... see Heidfeld, Button, Brawn and even Nick Fry!!! Hamilton has bum-fluff on the bottom of his chin these days too.


Are you thinking of beemas Mario Thiessen?


IMHO patchy beards should be banned - anybody who cannot manage a decent shave is clearly incapable of driving an F1 car properly. Additionally, it is a sign of low morality. Remember, Jesus shaves!


The mushes got the green light, Mathew, but the safety razor was out and they got chopped.


and = as 😀


...and Webber is a genuinely nice F1 character, too. Something that some of the newer drivers seem to be lacking, although to be fair, I don't think that Vettel is one of them.


Met him quite a few times, very easy to talk to and honest.


As for Vettel's chassis issue I prefer to wait for the next 2 races before concluding that Webber will dominate from here. Brawn GP were strong for the first part and slided for the remaining season. Last year most of us thought the championship will be decided before or at the Singapore GP. Everyone's excited for their choosen driver, so shuffling of leaders to the last race is what I'm hoping for.

Harriet and Blah Blah Nyborg

I'm a Webber supporter and have been delighted to see him win two on the trot. But I also think it's silly to say he'll "dominate" from here on. Of course not. But he'll pick up another win or two, and so will Vettel and so will Hamilton and Alonso.

But I'd LOVE to see Nico Rosberg win in Turkey next week. I know it's a crazy dream, but to see him get his first victory and the effect that would have on the WDC table would be amazing.

More different winners, please, Mr Ecclestone!


Its good to see Webber doing well and he does seem like a genuine person. I like his frank and up front manner.

I am also glad that Kimi will not get a chance to rob Webber of his drive. Based on these wins Webber deserves his seat in the team.

Kimi take note... this is how a F1 driver should conduct himself.


You will be eating your words soon. Insider reports say it's almost a done deal for Kimi to get Webber's seat next year.

This Webber poetry of late is all based on the fact that Vettel had mechanical problems in almost all his races (including on his chassis the last 2 races). The only race Vettel didn't have mechanical problems is the one he won. He would have won all of them if the car didn't have all these gremlins.

Anyone who claims Webber is as talented as Vettel or Kimi needs to lay down on the Red Bull drink 😛


inside reports also have webber going to ferrari.....

webber is clearly faster than vettel the last two races, and he wouldve been faster than him last year if he didnt have a broken leg and was fully fit. how does that sound? 🙂

mechanical problems, maybe he should learn to drive the car properly.


Why are some drivers more prone to these issues though? Mansell would have won a lot more races it he hadn't been a car breaker.


I dunno about that, Morse!



I wonder what tipple it is you drink then? Crikey !! Don't believe what you read in the press!! Chassis damage? My foot! Mark was quicker ... Simple really!!


I agree, I love how Webber conducts himself, totally up front and honest. But to be fair you can't really compare a native English speaker with an outgoing personality to someone who has never been truly comfortable speaking in English in public and who seems fairly introverted. It's not exactly like for like.

There should be room for all types of characters in the sport.

Big thumps up for Webber's success - but he hasn't signed a new contract yet....


Great article James, really hope to see your Mansell comparison continue to evolve. Have to say I am delighted to see Weber's success. I think ultimately this will be good for Vettel also. Up to now he has been a cocky young guy surfing through on his reflexes and skill. He has not had to overly use his brain, which he will increasingly have to do now that Mark is showing how it is done. Everyone wins!


Is the performance gap between R Bull and the rest such, that Vettel's alleged problems with his chassis caused him a disadvantage only with respect to his team mate?

Is R Bull only providing a excuse for his comparatively "under performance" of the last two races?

I have never believed in team's equal treatment policies (given the fact that resources are always limited). On the other hand it is surely not very convenient to have two drivers taking points of each other. Alonso is breathing in their necks.


But it would be stupid to put all your money on one driver at this point in the season. Injuries can and do happen any time and if then you're left with a second driver who lost most of his motivation and doesn't trust the team any longer you might not win a lot of points in the later part of the season, no matter how good your car is.

And as long as Red Bull block no.s 1 and 2 at each race they are not taking that many points away from each other. You just have to take care that the current no. 2 doesn't lose his belief that he can turn things around next weekend.


Yes, it sounds right what you say. It is only that teams always seem to favour one of their drivers for whatever reasons they have.

And, this question with Vettel's chassis sounds to me like: ok, we have to make sure Vettel gets more points than Webber (because we believe is our best bet), so lets say his chassis was faulty. Then, when people see Vettel at the front again they will think: it was the chassis then.

I don't know, it is not that I believe it has to be like this, but that is the feeling I have.


You are forgetting they have put a lot of their money into Vetal already through his training. They need a return on that asap.


Do you not think there are actually very few good drivers who underachieve? Maybe Alesi, John Watson, Johnny Herbert, maybe Heidfeld are very few who never really showed their talents the rest come good in the end, Mansell, Hakkinen, Button, Damon...

It really is a bit too early to say if Webber is in this class.


Ah so right Sam!

I loved watching Alesi. So exciting!

Remember him and Mansell dualing at Suzuka '94?

I can't belieeeeve he only ever won one race!


I tend to agree with you. I think there are a few good points made, and the Mansell comparison is interesting in terms of age and wins.

For me, I'd give it a bit longer but I think he's definitely starting to drive like a champion, he is in the quickest car and he has a very quick teammate.


Vettel will have a chance to become an F1 champion in future, but Webber has limited time. It should be him at the end of the year to take the title. I hope, at least.

By the way, in Turkey, Vettel outqualified Webber yet being outpaced in the race.


Because Vettel was stuck behind Button and that slowed him down. Not because Webber is a faster driver.


No becsuse Vettal made a mistake allowing Button into the lead. Webber & Vettel were on a different strategy to Button. Webber maintained a gap, Vettel pitted allowing Webber to jump him during the pitstops. Webber was quicker overall.


Although not a true fan of Webber, I'd be very happy for him if he did win the championship and think it would prove a very popular victory indeed.

That aside, I think Nigel was always considered one of the greats whereas Mark, and similarly Button, both as one time WDCs, would probably never be awarded that reputation.


Agree on both counts Steve.

Would love to see Webber win it (assuming Hamilton won't), and I think he'll deserve it, but don't see him as an all-time great like I do Il Leone.


Whilst Nigel Mansell may not have won a race until he was in his 30s he then went on to win races for the best part of 10 years, ending up with a staggering 31 race wins. I need hardly remind you that that was back in the days of far fewer races per year, and rivals such as Senna, Prost and Piquet to deal with too. Historically Mansell is an all-time great, and I think it's a little soon to compare Webber to him; however, the similarities are certainly striking so far.


Please remember when mansell had the active suspension williams ... My nan could have won in that car it was so superior!!

And what's with all these vettel fanboys? They're starting to sound like Kimis lot!

Chassis damage?? My foot! It's just a smokescreen to try to make Seb feel better! Diddums!!

Rock on Markie!!!


If there was a clumsy overrated driver who benefitted the most from Williams-born supercars, that was Mansell. He only won his title when the competition was wiped away from him. Piquet, retired. Prost, sabbatical. Senna, on a half-reliable slow and fuel thirsty Honda powered McLaren. Schumacher, rookie. Mansell, on an out of this world active FW14B with Newey onboard and Patrese as a teammate...

But he was still much better than Webber.


Winning in a totally dominant car?

Schumacher 00 - 04 anyone?


Remind me how many of those drivers won the wdc without being in a top car?


Sounds like the Red Bull PR department is helping Vettel get some confidence back in his driving? It would be nice to get some actual details from Horner about what deteriorated or what was damaged.

Questions need to be asked: If it was deteriorating as the Monaco race went on, how did Vettel manage to put in the fastest lap? If it was deteriorating as the Monaco race went on, then why did Vettel say his grip and balance was better when he was on the hard tires? which was much later in the race.

Not only does it sound like RB is trying to protect their golden boy, but also their investment in the development program they've made.


exactly. you didnt have the RB pr team make excuses for webber last year as to why Vettel was out racing him (re broken leg)


Webber didn't push his car to get the fastest lap, Vettel (being the fighter he is) did. If Webber pushed the car, he would get the fastest lap easily, because his chassis wasn;t damaged.

That is the only reason Vettel got the faster lap, not because his car was not damaged, like anti-Vettel conspiracy theorists are claiming.


Merc, are you really Sebastian Vettel? Lol


If Vettel gets better support from the Austrian side of RB, does Webber get the better support from the Milton Keynes arm?

Great to see Mark doing well - and hopefully the last 2 races will teach him how to better handle the "red mist" that can descend when he's not doing as well as he ought.

We might be JB fans here, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be Webber that we'll be cheering for first place at Silverstone.


same to you if the aussies get knock out in the football world cup i'll be supporting you lot.


They're in the pools that meet in the round of 16...


Well, you say in your last paragraph that this is Webber's 'one chance'. But why should it be? The comparison to Nigel Mansell is very valid and he remained a force in Formula One for nearly a decade after his first wins in 1985. Of course Webber needs to keep delivering, but even if Vettel does get the better of him for the rest of the season he's still likely to have a potent Red Bull RB7 under him in 2011 which will surely give him another chance, should he need it.

Boston F1 Fan

- I've always been a big fan of Webber and felt that he was underachieving his true potential. Also, I don't think that Webber's success undermines the Red Bull driver development program of which Vettel is a product. He's still very young; remember that Lewis Hamilton came out of almost a decade of Mclaren grooming and still made (and makes) some silly mistakes. I sincerely hope Webber holds onto this, if only because I'd like to see a winning F1 driver who's older than me.


I did hear Legard utter the lines during commentary, but the old bull and the young bull is a classic situation, isn't it?


Legard, man. He makes me cringe. What I really don't get is how MB and Legard constantly talk over each other. I remember seeing a pre-race segment in the early days of ITV coverage where Murray Walker explained that when either commentator had something to say, they tapped the other on the shoulder to let them know they were coming in. Easy, polite, respectful, professional. What's going on in that commentary box now? Don't get me wrong, the BBC coverage is extensive and impressive, but Jonathan Legard, IMHO, is a poor commentator.


Has anyone kept statistics of whether race-winning drivers praised their cars or took the post-race opportunity to explain how they'd won in spite of them?


He sure has got momentum and the two wins will do his self belief good. I think though that vettel on the whole has proven the faster of the two. He also had a chasis issue so we will see next race if mark is still on top. Think my money is still firmly on vettel and I think we will see just how driven and characterfull he is.

Leon Gagliardi

Great drive from Webber at Monaco. His pole lap was aggressive yet fluid and was a pleasure to watch. He was able to control his speed over the race distance and kept a cool head.

Although his driving is at a career high I think he could use some singing lessons!


It's too early to give Webber any credit on being a future champion. He never proved to be consistent race in race out and the fact he did it twice doesn't mean he can carry the momentum so wait a little longer before getting carried away !

Clearly he isn't in the ALONSO's Schumi's class, his success says maybe more about VETTEL than about him. The example of BUTTON is the example of another driver I like a lot for his character for his smooth and unique driving style but is he in the same league as Hamilton, clearly not ! When it comes to pure speed, he isn't with the best and neither is Webber.

The question is how special is VETTEL ?


Forget about our Nige, this could be a Mika era. If Mark secures next year, and can beat Vettel, there is all the reason to belive Red Bull will dominate for the following years until a rule change.


yes i think mika is a better comparison


Don't forget there are significant diffuser changes next year and potential kers. So there will be an opp for the others to get a good car out.

Just a thought, just imagine how far in front mark and seb might be if newey had secured merc for this year.....


James your comment about Silverstone sort of sums up why Webber has always been underrated all these years. Kimi blocked him in qualifying and then in the race, starting from third he jumped Rubens in the pits, but after that Vettel was 20 seconds up the road. So it's hard to make outright pace comparisons. But the point of the story is that results are what are remembered not all the little details.

That's why no one remembers Webber. Because up until 2009 the results never matched the performances.

2006 was a year Webber had many Kubica-ish performances. Australia, Monaco, Hockenheim etc etc. But each time, the car broke so the results were forgotten. 2006 he was on top form in my opinion, it was the best car he ever had. It was the first car he had driven that had good race pace. There were many podium opportunities that fell by the way side.

Jenson Button was similar. He had many performances that showed that he was capable. He just never had a car that had enough pace to win a dry race.

Kubica is the new one. I think Rosberg can be put onto that list as well.

Results make people take notice. Now that Webber has a good car, he can afford to drive average and still get results.. in the past he could drive out of his skin for no results.

I thought 2009 was so so. It wasn't his best season IMO, but he still won 2 races and got alot of podiums. That's F1 for ya. The broken leg probably didn't help. It seems this year he is now back to 2006 form.

It just peeves me off because to some, they might think Webber has suddenly "became good". It was always there. Admitedly, he's matured a bit and polished some areas. But the core speed and talent was always there. Some people's eyes just weren't open to seeing it.

Now that we have seen this happen two seasons in a row with Button and Webber, you would think people are trying to keep eyes open for the other drivers. But just the other day I read some journos comments about Rosberg being outpaced by Schumacher in Monaco. If you read in between the lines, Rosberg could have had podium or a win. He was quickest in Q2, messed up Q3, and when in clear air in the race was setting front running pace. But because of traffic and a poor start, he is seen being outpaced and being slow.

The biggest thing that has surprised me about Webber has been his never give up attitude. I have to be honest, after 2005 Williams (high expectations), then 2006 Williams (car breaks every 2nd race), and then to go into a Redbull car (just as unreliable as 2006) I think I would have thrown the towel in. Similar to Button after driving those awful Honda's in 2007 and 2008. At that point you must be thinking how much worse can it get?

Even just watching Webber's career has been a nightmare let alone actually living it. Every time it looked like he could get something back and put a result on the table, it'd get taken away again. Over and over. To get his first podium, he had to overtake Alonso! in Monaco after the team had switched the drivers in the pitstops. Everything in his career has been "trying to make up for lost time" so to speak.

Until this season, finally the results seem to be backing up what is deserved. I guess you could say the monkey is finally off the back.

And there is finally some justification for all those autopsport top drivers lists that had him in the top 5 for the last few seasons.

In Australia, up until recently.. I actually heard people saying things like "I wouldn't even trust him to drive my taxi, let alone an F1 car".

2010 should be a good battle. I really enjoy that they compete hard but there is no animosity, like past driver rivalries. Mostly though, I am just glad the results are finally on the table. Luck can be argued but results can not. He won the Monaco GP in dominant fashion and no one can ever take that away.


Spare a thought for Vettel as well. For the majority of the time, he's been the quickest guy in the team for the last 2 seasons. After 2 races, everyone is now talking about Webber.

And all of Vettel's bad luck early in the season with failures is forgotten. Vettel is a strong driver and he will be back.

Steve of Cornubia

Wow. If any driver on the grid deserves the 'unluckiest' title, surely it is Webber?

And as for who is best in the Red Bulls, why not take a look at the results to date? Webber has not been drastically overshadowed by his supposedly superior team mate.


Jon, I looked at the stats over the last two years and Vettel finished 14 points ahead of Webber both in 2009 and 2008 (even when Vettel was in the STR).

Two races that looked secure to Vettel at the beginning of this season, but for failures - things would look very different now.

I look forward to seeing who comes out on top this year...


Kobayashi was great for 2 races and so everyone got very excited about him. It seems silly to make the same mistake about Webber. He could easily go on to win the world championship, but lets wait a few more races and see if the trend continues. Vettel has beat him at most races over a period of some 20ish races, although to be fair its always been a close thing. I think its a safer bet that Vettel will come out on top, but lets wait and see what happens.


Didn't Prost try to secretly swap Mansell's chassis while they were at Ferrari?


He did! After Nigel got pole at the French Grand Prix in 1990, Prost secretly got Ferrari to swap the chassis over for the next race at Silverstone. Mansell could tell straight away that it wasn't his car and challenged the team. Eventually they admitted what had happened. Anyway in typical Mansell style he went out in Prost's unwanted car and stuck it on pole in what was one of the most committed laps I have ever seen:


Great story. And great response from nigel.


Why was that?


Why not approving my comments? What did I do to you?



Thanks for an insightful and entertaining piece. I think your Mansell comparison is absolutely spot on. And as you say, Vettel's time will come so here's hoping Webber gets what he deserves.


"It must have been subtle damage as Vettel managed to set the fastest lap in the closing stages of the Monaco race."

Not so, James. Webber could have easily set FL anytime he chose, especially towards the end when the car is at its lightest. He simply chose to take it easy. As you surely were able to tell from live timing, he was consistently faster than Vettel by a good 4-5 tenths. And the bulk of that was in sector-2. Since Vettel has been the faster of the two drivers more often than not, and given the magnitude of the difference per lap in Monaco, whatever was wrong w/ SV's chassis must have contributed largely.

And BTW, how is Webber a "fine driver" ? Much like Button, he had largely been a dissapointment until he landed in a car that was/is 1 sec/lap faster than any other. I don't recall Webebr winning a race in a Toro Rosso (and in the wet), I don't recall Webber starting 19th and finishing 5th in Monaco, as Vettel has done both, and more.

There are exactly 4 "fine" drivers in F1 today and these are Alonso, Lewis, Vettel and Kubica. Michael is just not there at this age. And it would be a solid 5 "fine" drivers had Kimi not gone rallying.


"I don’t recall Webebr winning a race in a Toro Rosso (and in the wet)"

Not diminishing the achievement, but i'd be more impressed if he won in the dry.


Would have been pretty amazing if he had won in a Toro Rosso considering he's never driven for them.

You might as well say Ayrton Senna never won a race in a Toro Rosso and that proves he's not a 'fine driver'.

Can't believe many people would agree there are only 4 fine drivers in F1, but you're entitled to your opinion, however strange it is.


webber wouldve won one (in a red bull) if Vettel didnt crash into him when he was driving for TR. that race was in the wet aswell.


How many times was it Webber himself who caused accidents that cost him and others ? You will not like the answer.


It was a reply to the 1st post about webber not being able to win in a rat sh** car and inability to drive in the wet. It wasn’t about whether he makes any mistakes or not. Of course he’s crashed out on his own accord, and so has everyone else on the grid.


I always find myself getting annoyed when people rattle off opinions as facts.

I don't doubt they are all good drivers, but f1 has plenty of drivers who could win given the right team and support.

Most of them are there because they are talented. There can only be so many podium spots and rarely do they go outside the top teams.


Australia 02, Brazil 03, Hungary 03, Malaysia 04, Monaco 06, Japan 07. Stop with this myth that Webber was not a fast driver. He always has been.

Best Drivers:

1. Lewis Hamilton

2. Mark Webber

3. Sebastian Vettel

4. Fernando Alonso

5. The Rest.


I didn't say Webber was or is not a fast driver. He is, on certain tracks and days. What I said was he is not a "fine" driver. That takes a lot more than just occasional or even consistent raw speed. Ask Massa.


Totally agree, it's a great news story for Formula 1, especially as he is a proper bloke and an out and out racer. It's still early days in the season, and Vettel could still turn the tables on Webber, especially with a new chassis. However, I think Webber's form is great news for the spectacle this year. Although Red Bull haven't dominated the championship so far, the ominous speed the car has shown, especially since Barcelona, means it difficult to imagine any one other than a Red Bull driver walking away the title this year. If that turns out to be the case, at least we might get a decent battle between both drivers, rather than Vettel walking away with it.


I really struggle to understand the 'fanboy' syndrome that is constantly cropping up here ... James's article was a nicely balanced view on older drivers doing well and all his points were valid.. But instead of discussing that we get ambushed by all the blinkered Kimi and Seb fans who have picked up on this 'chassis damage' .. Believe me it's a smokescreen to try to make Seb feel better ... Mark was simply quicker in both Spain and Monaco and would have more than likely won Malaysia if he'd had the proper mirrors so he could have defended at the start.
Oh yeah Kimi is Not a done deal as someone says and I'm a huge webber fan yeah ... And know him personally.. He's a great bloke and a great driver.. It wouldn't hurt you to give credit where credits due ... If the results were different with Seb winning the last two, you'd all be shouting about his brilliance!!
Come on be objective and put your silly bias to one side .. Webbos doing fab and deserves all the success he gets!


Good shout mike. There are quite a few lacking objective opinions 🙂

I am a mclaren fan, but that doesn't exclude me from saying well done to mark webber. He has done a great job since coming back from the bike accident. Good luck to him


Whether the damage to Vettel's chassis is significant or not, I am sure it will be significant from a psychological point of view.

It allows Seb to rationalise being soundly beaten by Mark for 2 races, and will leave nagging doubts in Mark's mind whether he has actually out performed Seb, or won because he had a car advantage.

Turkey could set the trend for the remainder of the season and will be fascinating.


I believe we are in an ere where we will see all the guys win a championship and deservedly so, and I hope Mark can win it.

F1 has done a good job and stopped the 'one guy' win year after year, and hopefully we can see over the next few years a creation of world championships

Does Mark deserve this? YES I think so, although It wont take much for Vettel to get the bit between his teeth and push harder. as will Mark..going to be very interesting. Forget Lewis (who I support) and Button fighting, its the RB's and Mark and Seb!


I feel that both drivers at Red Bull are quick and some circuits may suit one more than the other. Setups have a huge bearing on lap time and Vettel I feel has had problems getting the setup right on the car (such as borrowing Webber's setup in Malaysia if I recall). Webber is a Monaco specialist and Vettel doesn't appear to gel well iwht the track. I feel that Webber has been faster than him and the last two races, and was probably faster in race trim in Malaysia and Australia. The chassis damage can't have been too great, because it will be the spare car at Turkey!. If Webber can beat Vettel at Turkey, it is ominous for Vettel, as it means a fit Webber is probably his match, and should go on to secure the WDC, unless Mr Marko intervenes

Jose Arellano

didnt vettel was in bmw driver development?

Bjorn schultheiss

Great to see Mark keeping Sebastian honest.

I don't think the majority want to see Seb run away with the title.

If Mark has what it takes to win, good luck to him, he deserves.

You don't find yourself in a position like his by chance.


Good post james. As your old mate mark hugues has said before the 2003 and 2004 jaguars were never worthy of front row starts. Same goes for the 06 williams which never deserted the fuel pole at monaco. Mark has clear speed and determination. Its good to finally see some success!

Boston F1 Fan

- I also like that Webber is very candid. He's not like the rest of the sanitized, mechanical F1 drivers. I remember an interview with him on which asked if he liked the Valencia street circuit. Instead of answering the typical "I love it; I love the food, the culture, the people, it's a fantastic track and they have done a fantastic job" he simply replied "No".


i agree with everyhing you wrote james,

at the start of the season i got a few telephone calls from friends asking who i'd be betting on for the world championship this year. when i took a look at the odds i told everyone mark webber was my horse!

i think pretty much any driver that is in formula 1 is world class and given the proper car they will dominate. you cant take much away from any of them.

take jacques villeneuve for example..

when he came into formula 1 off the back of cart champion and indy 500 winner in america. he stepped into a dominating williams imo was unlucky not to be world champion in is rookie season. he had to wait to the following season and then departed with williams and became forgotten and hated on by just about anyone.

it all comes down the car!


I agree Jeremy, and Villeneuve was really exciting those first 2 years... Estoril 96 always sticks in my mind when I think of him.

Steve of Cornubia

As a Brit living in Oz, I laugh at the way most Aussies need only one thing to label any sportsman or woman a 'great' or a 'legend' - that they are Australian. I also find Webber's whingeing when things don't go well a bit unfortunate, given that it is the British who are supposedly the 'whingeing Poms'.

Having said that, I have secretly (don't want my Aussie friends getting all excited) admired Mark for some time, not because of his driving, which I think is at least as good as Vettel's (overrated) but because he is one of few F1 drivers with an actual personality.

In fact, my wife once asked: if I could have dinner with any of the current F1 drivers, who would I choose? I picked Webber because I imagined he would be the only one who would 'tell it like it is' and whose ego wouldn't cast a shadow over the whole dinner table.

Goodonya Mark. Hope you win the title this year.



Not sure what you’re referring to regarding Webber Whinging as nearly everyone in this post has agreed he's a straight shooter who tells it like it is as you have also pointed out.............

Mind you if we were to be a Whinger that would be the Brit influence coming out from residing in the UK !

Australians are proud to be Australian and so cheer on our sports men and women, do you have a problem with that ? We are only a small population and to even have a representative in a sport as elitist (numbers on the grid) as F1 is something to cheer about. I’m sure Karun Chandhok fans in India would agree.


Lovely piece James - really evokes the imagery of the young chargers, the old knights etc. You've very much described how I feel about the season except that I feel - in order to put the finishing touch on the revenge of the older driver - that Schumi needs to get at least a couple of podiums.


It's funny that Button has 2 wins this year yet there is NO question that he is slower than Hamilton in outright speed. Then Webber wins two races and everyone is questioning Vettel.

The chassis may be the fault and in regards to the Mansell/Prost deal with swapped chassis and resulting speed, in the 90's when Kocinski was on the 250. Kocinski came in during a rain session and said he needed half a tooth gearing change and Roberts told him to deal with it. Kocinski went out the next session and went two seconds quicker.

Makes you wonder how much of it is 'in the head'?


Dear James,

you are certainly right about the comparison between Mansell and Webber, but I would disagree that it is only in the last ten years that we have seen drivers come to F1 and be successful almost instantly.

In the 80's, Ayrton Senna started winning races in his second year. That was simply due to his fantastic quality, not a development program. The same with Allen Prost some years before.

Moreover, of the current young drivers only Hamilton started in a real front-running car. Alonso spent a year in a Minardi and a year as test driver. Vettel spent some time in BMW and Torro Rosso, while Raikonnen started with Sauber.

In addition, Button has just himself to blame for his lack of success in the previous years! He was happy enough with the big money, the publicity, the girls and didn't really care about the racing... Now he much more serious about his driving, something that the Alonsos and Hamiltons of this world did from day one...


James,a very nice article!keep up the superb job


I sense a bit of PR spin protecting Vettel's reputation.

It doesn't matter whether Vettel has lots of time to win WDCs and Webber hasn't. If Vettel is outpaced by the Aussie it damages his aura as 'the next big thing', the next Schuey. Being German, v. young and having a good personality he is extremely marketable.

I like Vettel and think he's a fast driver but I just don't rate him quite as highly as most of the pundits do at the moment. For example the fact he doesn't go so well at Monaco - THE driver's track - is a concern... And what's this about Paul de Resta having the legs of him when they were team-mates...

Like everything about Webber but doen't see him as WDC - RB don't want it and there is still a doubt over his consistency for me. Roll on Turkey...


Hope Webber wins it, as far as I am aware, the only taxpayer on the grid. It will be interesting to see how Vettel reacts, the pressure is on now, Red bull are going to win it so who is it going to be.


Excellent piece James.

I was certainly one of the Webber doubters, and I am loving the fact that I am having to eat my words.

I've found myself rooting for him of late. I do so hope he manages to win the championship this season.

But if he does.. that will just make me wonder what might have been if DC had been given this car.

Nice one Mark!


I think the RBR is the best pairing in the paddock. They match each other very well, and are both strong, confident drivers. That they have, undeniably, the best car in the field now takes them to the front of the grid on qualifying - the best position to be in to win the race. The fact they have both won and both achieved poles just proves how good they are.

Personally I rate Vettel as a better driver, but have supported Webber since well before he actually got an F1 drive - and while Webber isn't the most skilled/gifted driver in the field, he certainly does have the drive, determination and "Aussie-Grit" he professes to have. Regardless, their time has (finally) come...

I hope Webber can continue to build from here, but I'd reckon the RBR team will duke it out to the end... while the rest of the field plays chasey...

Nigel Christian

I'm aware my comment may pale into insignificance but I'll try anyway.

I've got a question! A number of times this season I've read and heard reporters and commentators, including yourself, refer to a driver's number of 'competitive overtakes'.

Where is this statistic recorded, and more importantly, where can I keep track of it?


Schumacher's past it with even Webber being faster, who would have thought it?

In my view, Hamilton, Alonso & Vettel are by far the 3 fastest current F1 drivers and their team-mates will only beat them if there are others factors in play like luck (Button) etc.

In Senna's day, given equal cars Senna was way better than those around him and Mansell was only at his speed when he had a car advantage, just look at who secured the poles in the days when pole really meant something.


Interesting to read your observation that the Austrian side is firmly behind Vettel. You're suggesting that the weight of interest might shift if Webber continues to win and leads Vettel....but that weight of interest has already changed. Go back and find the footage of Marko greeting Webber after his breakthrough win in Germany - Helmut was nice enough to stay behind to congratulate Mark - but have a look at the greeting - I think the Guinness Book of records created a new section for "Most uncomfortable Congratulatory Hug" - it was like a human emotional car crash - neither looked like they knew what to that to Monaco - it looked like father and son.
The tide has already turned - Webber has won that long awaited respect from Marko and that's very good news for their future.

PS love your work on the intros for One HD - more garage insights please!...and a Helmut Marko interview should be top of the list - someone needs to take Red Bulls' temperature on MW.


I second this for your work on OneHD. Insights before and after commercial breaks would be fab too instead of Rusty and his team babbling away.

Great banner on the website too for the Monaco GP - very cool classic look.


James great article to read as a Webber fan!

I would also like to see an interview with Dr Marko on One HD..if he does them!


James, a fine paean to older drivers who finally get their due when the car and timing's right. Similarly, I'd hoped that this year Heidfeld might finally get the right combination with Ross Brawn and the Mercedes package. Maybe yet...


I think Mark Webber has one of the best chances to claim the title this year. I would like him to win it because as a true patriot, through the years hasn't had the best of luck in terms of reliability. If he can stay on the podium and be consistent high points finishes he can really do it. Though, that history has shown that his consistency tends to fade away through a course of the season. Perfect example of this is last year where he had just as much of an opportunity then Vettel.Regardless in the outcome it's been fantastic season thus far, just wish they can bring back the re-fuelling and stop this predictability after a one lap strategy.


I love the Mansell/Webber comparison. Both are quite outspoken (the former more than the other from memory), Williams ex-drivers and pure racers.

It is a great story for the sport. Experience shows - at last - since last year.

It is very early days though. If the RB6 has reliability woes and McLaren wins a couple of races in a Row, then Button or Hamilton will be in the title lead. Let's wait and see.


Hi James,

I'm unaware that Alonso was part of any driver development program. Did you mean the time when he was the test driver for Renault or was he in another program?


I'm unaware too. To the best of my knowledge, very young Alonso went directly from Formula 3000 (Team Astromega) to F1 Minardi, then owned by Australian Paul Stoddart) in 2001. From that 'competitive' car he went to other 'competitive' car by then, that is Renault in 2002, as a test-driver. In 2003 got a racing seat in Renault, in which he achieved a pole, 4 podiums and won a race, finishing sixth in the WDC with 55 points.

Anyone interested in Alonso's career may have a short look to it in Wikipedia. The article there devoted to Alonso is peer reviewed and part of WikiProject Formula One (Rated B-Class, Top-importance).


I believe there are literally only a few tenths of a second seperating the top drivers in terms of raw pace these days. These guys are all super talented and on their day there are at least 10 drivers on the grid who can win. I've never really bought into the whole 'this guy is way better than this guy, this other guy is clearly the best' talk. A lot of the time what it comes down too is car, conditions, driver form and consistency.

The Red Bull is obviously the class of the field so it's looking like most of the dry races this season will be contested between their 2 drivers. Webber has had a great run recently, I'm very happy for him, there is still however a slight question mark over his temperment in high pressure situations. Vettel is fast and will surely respond, how Mark deals with the pressure of leading a championship will be critical to his title hopes.

We're now entering a real crunch point of the championship, as James pointed out Silverstone in particular will be very interesting. If Webber puts one over Vettel there it will have a big psyhcology impact on the young German.



Are the two Red Bull drivers allowed to 'Race' each other?

I seem to remember some early season comments that, on orders from team principals, all racing between the Red Bull drivers stops after the exit from turn 1 of the first lap. Thus, if Webber is ahead of Vettel, he stays there, and vice-versa?

I don't think I've even seen Webber and Vettel get within 1 second of each other once the first-lap shenanigans are over.

guzel yukselici

Once I read about M. Webber that He is really hard working person and he trains a lot

I think he deserves to be 2010 world Champ. Vettel is good but his time will come as he is very young and talented. Hope Mark will keep his current performance.

And he is a gentleman...

Go go go go go webber.....


I just laugh every time I hear someone so convinced that Webber (or any other driver who hasn't had an easy ride in F1 for that matter) "clearly" isn't in the same league as Alosno, Hamilton etc. Where is your proof?!? Do you simply not understand that the machinery has ALWAYS made up AT LEAST 95% of performance and if it were a one-make series all of the experienced drivers would easily be within a tenth of each other?!?! Do you honestly think Hamilton would be a world champ already if he'd had to start his career in a Minardi?! I know you're going to say, well Alonso did it - but may I remind you that if Webber had listened to Flav (who despite managing both drivers offered WEBBER the Renault drive before Alonso) it would be the Aussie not the Spaniard with 2 world titles already! Fact. Okay now down to business James I agree Silverstone really could be the landmark race this season. But can I remind you that Seb only got the better of Mark there last year because Webber's final qualifying run was ruined by a completely ignorant and clearly bored Kimi Raikonnen driving as slow as my grandma on the racing line at the end of Hangar Straight. Webber would have won that race and after cleaning up in Germany a week later (with a drive-through) would have been the clear challenger to Button. Remember he scored something like 28 points to Button's 8 in a very short period mid season and back-to-back wins would have given him the confidence that he has clearly found this year. Vettel seems to me absolutely perplexed by Webber's pace in the last fortnight but he also knows that if the mirrors were fixed before Malaysia he'd actually be 14 points behind in the standings by now - so should be considering himself pretty lucky. Yes yes Seb has had some bad luck this year but so has Mark - it's actually been pretty even in that respect. It's going to be a great fight - I really like both drivers but do hope that Webbo can sneak just 1 title in this year before the kid learns how to set up his own car - it will help him finish some races!! Just please don't give me any more of this "most boring season ever" crap just because one team is dominating. Webber especially has worked so hard with Adrian Newey developing this car and is now getting his reward!

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