F1 Winter Break
New broken shoulder the cause of Webber’s slide at end of season?
New broken shoulder the cause of Webber’s slide at end of season?
Posted By: James Allen  |  06 Dec 2010   |  10:55 am GMT  |  154 comments

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.

The revelation comes in Webber’s new book, “Up Front: A season to remember”, which has just been published in Australia.

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.

Up Front, © 2005 Pan MacMillan (ISBN 9781405040037) is on sale now for AU$39.95 RRP.

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Very interesting revelation. Do you think this would have hindered his performance and ability to get that extra tenth in qualifying?


It's not just the injured shoulder itself that would have compromised his performance (although it would be mighty painful the way they crank those harnesses down over the shoulders). The injury also takes a lot of energy out of a person. Being in pain is draining, as is the process of healing. Complicating this further would have been Mark's ability to sleep comfortably to get proper rest. (I have had shoulder injuries so I can attest to this). Most people have experienced themselves how much a lack of sleep can affect their own ability to concentrate and perform tasks well.


Webber is a natural born crasher... not surprised. Still a good block head though.


If you think, his performance at Singapore was pretty poor, especially in qualifying, which would make sense if he'd only just had the accident before that Grand Prix. Then on in, if it was affecting him slightly then, this may explain why Seb looked so dominant.

The big question is why didn't he tell his team or the media? Do you think he was scared that if he told his team they'd automatically put Vettel as the number 1, knowing Mark's injury, even though he was still leading the championship at the time?


If that's true, then that sheds a whole new light on his recent performances. Remarkable that he managed to cling on like he did, and how gutted he must feel that he fell off that bike.


It is true...of course


James, I think you are a Webber fan. I can sense your likings toward him. Webber has what we call "false pride." And he payed for it.


I certainly wasn't trying to claim you were misleading us, just that it is a fairly astonishing revelation, and remarkable that he kept it under wraps. A true show of character, and here's hoping that he can keep 2011 accident free, and claim that WDC.


I think it also makes you wonder how seriously webber took his championship chances. If that mountain biking activity was what constituted 'normal training' then it was simply unfortunate.

However, if that was something which normally Webber wouldn't do then it was reckless. Further, he may have not said anything because he could be in breach of contract - or simply because he was worried the team would favour Seb once the revelation was known.

Very interesting piece of information which certain sheds light on his slightly lacking performances (in comparison to his team mate) in the final four races.


He has said previously many times that he loves sports of all kinds. His Tasie charity thing is pretty much who he is.

And who said that Mark Webber had finally got over being-the-unluckiest-driver?

Even more interesting to think about is that if Mark Webber had pulled an extra tenth in japan or korea, then he would be on poll, that would have guarenteed starting from the front in korea (SC) or atleast a better start in Japan.

Say it was korea (more likely), would he still have been under the pressure to stay with his teammate and hence would he have had the off? ANd omre to the point would the injections he had before the race, (presumably numbing the nerves or similiar) have caused the slight delay in his pickup in korea (doubt it given he blended in too much throttle looks like, but ? nontheless).

And if he had managed an extra 7 at japan or anything at Korea (either due to not having to catch SV or whatever), would vettel have traded positions with Webber at Brazil? And if so that would have been 7+7 min. points more. Which means he would have been ahead of Alonso in the tally, and so would alonso have then tried to defend the tactics of webber at abu dhabi? and would mark have said what he said at Brazil?

Did this cost him the WDC in that case?

Probably cost him a big chunk of his chances at 2010 WDC, but who knows what would have happened if he could have stayed on his bike.


Maybe I am not the only one to miss a clause about "no off track risk" on the drivers' contracts - such as the American pro athletes use to have?

It was not the case of Newey, whose performance will not be affected by a broken arm or something like that.


I think that his shoulder injury hampered his performances but it should've done so mainly in race trim rather than qualifying where it's only a one lap effort where you can withstand the pain much easier.

Besides, it was his mistake whether there was a contract banning such activities or not. He was leading the world championship and it was one of his last if not his last occasion to do it. Why did he manage to take such risks ? Moreover it wasn't his 1st biking accident so it was his mistake and he lost the title fair and square.

One final point, his accident in KOREA had nothing to do with his shoulder, he went on the kerb and kept his foot on the throttle. I don't see what the shoulder had to do with it.


Jo, my point is not how much his injury affected his performance - in terms of race pace or in terms of qualifying. My point is that it was not the best moment to have any physical problem.

He lost the championship fair and square. I agree. That's precisely what I mean.

Re your final point: maybe his reflexes were worse because of the pain on his shoulder...


Well he says he took painkillers. Maybe they might've dumbed down his shoulder/arm reflexes a bit, but his spin wasn't a steering thing. It was a right foot that was too heavy for the wet kerb


Btw, if he didn't tell to the Team... mmm, this does not seem too loyal from his side, does it?


As for not telling the team, that's probably borne out of his anger over the (perceived?) favoritism shown Vettel? Also, as I believe that everything is always, only about money, I'd love to know what his contract says about injuries outside of his team responsibilities. I'm assuming that there was some sort of financial incentive not to disclose the injury to the team. I'm sure that Mr. Horner feels more than a bit slighted by all of this.


100% correct ... You are 100% correct! And then he speaks against the team for moving a 0.001 better front wing to the other car (and this must be better explained)!

Shame on you, Mark Webber!


If it was only 0.001s better, then why does it matter which car it was on?


What are they going to do, flog the seat off for three races?

He still came second in two out of the four races...


I can imagine Dr Marko telling him something like "such an irresponsible behaviour.. not bad for a #2 driver"


In years past, drivers would be free to race in other series between F1 races. Can't see that happening now with the money involved.


Well done on the scoop, James.

No-one else has this just now, not even Autosport.

Apart from being gutted, it wouldn't surprise me if MW was just a little embarrassed by the injury. Couldn't face telling anyone, must have been kicking himself.

Hope RB has put a clause in his contract for 2011, NO No No more extreme sport stuff!!!!


Irregardless of Mark's history on this equipment, mountain biking...under normal conditions...is certainly not an extreme sport.


But does that not rather go against the whole ethos of the Red Bull sporting brand?


It would be very interesting to hear what Christian Horner has to say about this. Do you know if there are plans to release the book here in the UK?


I can't see this going down at all well with Red Bull..

Vettel had an outside chance of winning the title after Webber and Alonso so really Mark Webber was RB's best hope and he potentially risked it all by getting injured doing something that has proven dangerous for him..

I know it sounds harsh but if you chose to be an F1 driver and take all of the expectations that come with that on your shoulders (pun intended) then you need to make sacrifices!


Wow. That must have made driving those last few races really hard.

Must be hard to balance the risks of needing to train but making it enjoyable enough to keep pushing on. ie He could have done 3 hours on an exercise bike but it would be mind numbingly tedious and he may be less inclined to train hard the next day.


Pretty dissappointing. I have a video from Singapore behind the scenes where Webber almost crashed into Brundle on Thursday or Friday night. It was late in the night, Brundle was doing a story for BBC, walking around the track etc. Webber comes yahooing past him, just misses him and then comes back laughing and talking to Brundle about it. Brundle laughed but probably had to clean his pants afterwards, as you'd imagine.

It's dissappointing because of the first accident, then onto this one now. It's like the lesson wasn't learned. This is a chance in a lifetime driving such a good Redbull car and by taking so many risks, well it's unlucky yes, but when you take risks you can't really complain when bad things happen.

It's unfortunate but also pretty frustrating. You have to give him credit for keeping quiet and getting on with the job. It sort of explains why he was so dissappointing in the final races but it doesn't get those races back. I guess looking fowards, it gives a bit of hope towards the upcoming season, but even at 100% Vettel is a seriously fast driver with emotional support of the team. If there was any doubt before, there certainly isn't now that he is crowned and youngest WDC ever.

I don't get how any of these drivers are able to stay so cool under the pressure and spotlight. No one had any hint of this until now. Not even Christian Horner, apparently?


How is it a lesson not learned? For drivers to stay at peak fitness, they need to train, a lot. Mountain biking is no more dangerous than road cycling (which most if not all drivers do on a regular basis). Mountain biking might even be safer than road cycling because there are no cars to plough into the cyclist.


Except trucks on Tasmanian trails, which is what Mark hit in 2008.


Between Mark Webber and Jenson Button, which of them gives more excuses? Those 2 always find an excuse for everything. Amazing!


Hey Manuel, I agree - this is typical Weber baa-hum-bug sore loser behavior! ha 😉


I have the book, and Webber does not blame the fracture for his performance. He simply states that he had the accident, and was glad that qualifying in Suzuka was pushed to Sunday, which gave him some extra recovery time, and that he had the injections, presumably to quell the pain.


If it was an excuse I am sure Webber would have mentioned it with a girlish femine voice like Jenson always does in the BBC red button show after the race. Zing.


"Girlish femine"? Do you mean "feminine", if so

try doing a few Triathlons to bring out your

"Girly side". I did, it nearly killed me!

Zing, Jon ,zing.


"I’m told that Webber does not feel that the injury was an excuse for not making the grade in the end."

I'm sorry but did you read the article?


Replace goggles with reading glasses maybe?


Yes, and i know how to read between the lines too.

With or without broken shoulder, Vettel is faster than Webber. He should deal with it. He lost the championship because he couldn't deal with the pressure and needed Vettel's help.


If it was an excuse for being outperformed by his teammate, then Mark would have used it during the season. Surely?


Webber only has himself to blame then.


I suppose the crucial question is would that injury contributed to his mistake in korea?

I suspect it's more likely to prevent him maximising the car's pace and less nrelevant with respect to the most significant cause of him losing the championshop in the last few races

Would you agree James?


In the rain less strain is put on the body. I don't think it'd be the type of thing you can blame on the crash. Rather something that could put extra mental pressure on (having to compensate for the injury) and also maybe a small lack of confidence or speed in the high speed corners or over a race distance, depending on how the cortisone injections and shoulder affected his driving. Only Webber knows that answer to that question. Maybe we can all agree it definately wouldn't have helped!


As far as I can tell he's not using it as an excuse. I imagine that it will have meant a lack of strength in that shoulder, but it's mainly about pain killing; if he wasn't in pain then he probably wasn't far off his best. But the margins are very small in F1...



I agree if he wanted an excuse he would have mentioned it earlier. Others might say he was embarrassed by his stupidity of engaging in the sport that stuffed his '09 season. I'd say we are all boys and we play during leisure and work. The difference between leisure and work to an F1 driver is negligible. I had better go back to writing my report 🙁




Low key revelation, no excuses - what a bloody top bloke Webber is!

I don't see why Red Bull see him as problematic from a marketing point of view either - he's more the dashing, adventurous type than Vettel. He's good in front of a mic and he's not an ugly b**ger...


As for being adventurous, he goes mountain biking and Seb goes rock climbing. About the same really.


I know it's easy to fall back on cliches and drone on about Webber's Aussie grit, but by god the man is made of sterner stuff than the rest of us. To keep it to himself and soldier on without making excuses... I take my hat off to him.


James ,not sure i can post this but Mark sure is made of stern stuff



Basically THIS.


Hmm... I'm having a shocker! Bikes and F1 or WRC drivers (in case of Loeb in 2006 who still went on to win the title despite sitting at home) don't go together. Schumi had his infamous bike crash, well, with another type of bikes.

Renault are quite brave in letting Kubica have fun with rally cars!

For sure, this thing might have affected Webber. He didn't seem like his old self in Abu Dhabi.

Suspicious since singapore

He made a comment to the press post race in Singapore along the lines of being pleased with his performance 'given the circumstances', but couldn't work out what was going on behind the scenes to account for this (he looked pretty downcast).

Thanks for finally making sense of it all!


He broke it after Singapore. By the circumstances I think he meant the fact that his front left tyre was about to pop fall off the wheel after Lewis hit him.


Well well well! So now i can only say WHAT AN IDIOT to be risking such a great season! Hes had some frightening crashes in his car this season, but the best advice anyone can give him in the future is to STAY OFF OF THE PEDAL POWER YOU NUMSKULL!!! 2 outings on bikes and 2 crashes with injuries!! Yet he walked away from his cars without a scratch!! Seems obvious a fractured shoulder has cost him his best shot at the title in 2010, as his performances dropped away drastically since Japan and now we know this happened theres the reason why. Hard to feel any sympathy for him when he knows himself he had so much at stake, but cant help it because he is a proper action man. Oh well, its definitely a lesson learnt for Mark from now on.


2 outings on Bikes ..2 accidents?

Show just how little you know about Mark Webber.

Cycling is his main form of exercise and he does it everyday, mountain and road biking.. It's brilliant CV exercise.

This was simply a mishap, NOT Mark conducting RISKY pursuits


While I expect RB will have a fit over not being told, and rightly so, it was hardly an 'extreme sport' as some have said, he was riding a bike, not snowboarding down K2 blindfolded. If you start saying drivers can't have any leisure time, or even fun exercise, then well, what ARE they allowed to do.


"...then well, what ARE they allowed to do."

Any activity (sport, leisure,...) that doesn't put them at risk unnecessarily? I can imagine lots of things to do, of course.

At the end of the day, they are top athletes, probably the best of the world, they get paid loads of money... and IMO their companies can ask them to behave off track. Can you imagine that Mark had not showed up at Abu Dhabi just because of that "no F1 related" injury?


Sure but riding a bike offroad, you are more likely to be injured in a random road accident, are they not allowed to own or drive cars except in races? As for all electrical devices that can give you shocks and fire that burns, well, lock them up in a small padded room and only let them out for races...

If he had been doing something truly dangerous then fair enough, but it was an everyday event that millions of people do safely. I just don't see that it was a big deal, he was unlucky. Anyone can be unlucky, and it can happen anywhere.


Shoulder strength is pretty important for driving a race car, and the G forces on F1 are just punishing. Amazing he soldiered on without a whimper.


It makes me look differently on his end of season performances as I'm sure it affected him.

However, it also makes me look differently on his end-of-season outburst:

"He did not tell Red Bull team boss Christian Horner..."

Sorry, but he can't complain about the lack of emotional support from the team when he can't even be honest with them. Obviously the reason he kept quiet is because it would no doubt have persuaded the team not to throw it's weight behind Webber - and for good reason.


I'd look at the other way. Why did Mark Webber not feel able to reveal the information of RB? No idea how much it would of affected his performance, but it obviously would of in some way and that's enough in F1.


"Obviously the reason he kept quiet is because it would no doubt have persuaded the team not to throw it’s weight behind Webber – and for good reason."

I think the reason he kept it quiet is because RBR would have immediately make Vettel the frontrunner, without so much as letting Mark have a fair crack at the championship!


I doubt it, Webber was still in the better position - but fair treatment wasn't what Webber was hoping for.

Anyway, it's not his motives that's the problem - it's the hypocrisy of complaining about the way the team acts towards him when he's lying to them.


"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."

That assuming he doesnt go mountain biking again eh James. 😉

Not sure I have much sympathy for him - he's already had an big accident mountain biking before, told the team he wouldnt do it again (as I recall it at the time), then as he is leading the title race, goes and does just that. No wonder he didnt tell anyone in the team - they would have been livid with him for being so reckless!

Year to remember indeed - how a mountain bike ride cost him the F1 title! Doh!


It's so refreshing to see a driver like Mark after all of the corporate robots that have been churned out from F1 recently. He's a genuine sportsman who does it not for the glory, not for the recognition, not for the money... he does it because he loves it, and that's how it should be!! If anything, my respect for him is all the greater even though he lost the championship, just because of the way in which he did it. Enough of the sterile, manufactured racers, let's see a genuine human being win it one day!

I remember last year when there were polls on who would be the world champion in 2010. I didn't see Mark Webber feature in a single one. It just goes to show how things can turn around...


He wasn't World Champion though 😛


You've got to admit, though, halfway through the season it looked like he'd run away with it 😉


I am guessing for Christmas Adrian Newey and the engineering department will design Mark some carbon fibre shoulder pads and leg protection for his bike rides (maybe a new Red Bull product line)! I suspect Mark thought he had used all his bad luck after the Tasmanian crash, and it could never happen again. Having gone public with his latest injury, no doubt the team will impose some stricter rules in future. I can understand him keeping quiet, especially given the tension within Red Bull and not wanting to inflame his position within the team further.


Well I hope that satisfies all those who said he'd 'bottled it' or 'lost his nerve'from Singapore on. It was plain to see he was frustrated and something was plainly wrong in his demeanor. I for one reckoned the team had just turned down his engine, or some such ploy. I really like Mark, he's old school and a real racer, not like some of the wimps out there. Funny that the team don't think he's got the right image to be the Red Bull champ - I think he's perfect. Watch him go next year...


Ahh, if only the haters could be satisfied!

Sadly, I don't think this will be the case, if anything, it will give people who don't like Mark even more ammunition.

I for one, don't care, haters gonna hate, and I believe 2011 can be Mark's year, he pushed all of the frontrunners up to the very last race, he didn't look for excuses like some (which we shan't name), and basically, I agree with what you said, it's his Aussie Grit, his journey all the way from the bottom (or down under :p ) to the very top that's makes for one awesome racer!


Is there any driver in 2010 season other than webber who atualy took out at least 4 drivers out of a race? hamilton, kovalainen, vettel and roseberg? webber has improved but he can get reckless sometimes.


Ive always though webber was abit like Senna in this regard particularly the hamilton incident in singa. moves on alonso and button last year i think webbers overtaking is underrated he often leaves it upto the other driver to decide if its gonna end in a crash much like senna.

webber is oldschool that is certin.


Now then, I believe that's a matter of opinion, especially in Vettel's case. While it was clearly Mark's fault taking out Nico Rosberg in Korea, in my opinion the other three are a bit more complex. Collision with Hamilton could've had the same consequence for Mark, that's not to say it was his fault, he was defending his position.

Incident in Valencia was bad enough for Mark to take the sole blame, as for Turkey...

Let's just say saying it was one driver's fault is something I will never agree with.

Certainly not if the driver in question is Mark.


Vettel took himself out.... twice, so did Hamilton

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

I completely agree. His behaviour in Australia and Korea was outrageous.


Slightly off-topic, but was reminded of this teaser that I saw recently, maybe exemplifying (is that a word?) the image Red Bull wants to portray, and Mark doing mounting biking fits it perfectly


Can't see them being too mad at him, maybe apart from the fact that he didn't let them know.


"...maybe exemplifying (is that a word?)"

YES it is:


I keep learning English at the same time I'm learning about F1. Simply fantastic, James, maybe you should advertise your blog as an "English and motorsports learning site" LOL.


As both a big cycling fan and an avid F1 fan I feel I should just mention that mountain biking isn't that dangerous of a sport. It's a loose term thrown about. It cover everything from downhill and freeride to bumbling along bridal paths. He might not of even been doing anything too technical when they guy in front fell. In my opinion it's no more dangerous than road biking. I've known far more people to be killed/seriously injured on the road than I do of those on the trail. I'm pretty sure Button and Alonso are both road bikers and nobody sees that as a risk even though they'll probably get up to speeds of 50MPH plus. Add the danger or moronic cars... it's a very dangerous sport.


couldn't agree more. these injuries can occur with relatively small impacts and you can't do much about the guy in front falling. the drivers need to keep (very) fit somehow and road cycling is definitely just as dangerous.

also agree that red bull will have no objections to the image this projects, especially as they ended up with their preferred championship result anyway.


My feeling previously was that Red Bull should have got behind Webber and had Vettel helping him win the title ... now Webber says he had a fractured shoulder, it seems terrible that the team might have risked putting their main effort into supporting an injured driver.

At the point Webber fractured his shoulder, he should have declared this to the team and instead have taken a supporting role to Vettel. I really can't see Red Bull being too happy with him about this.


From our position thats easy to say though. Webber hasn't got many more chances at the title and his relationship with the team wasn't great anyway. It wasn't necessarily the "right" decision not to tell them but I think it is an understandable one.


Maybe, but then saying the team wasn't supporting him emotionally was hypocritical considering that he'd been lying to them.


Maybe that is why, he didn't tell them!


I agree. Imagine if he had told them, considering their (RBR) treatment of him up until that moment, would he have been able to actually race for the Championship?? Not if Marko would have anything to say about that... 🙁


I was wondering James, how do you think Red Bull feel about him keeping this from them? Didn't he also "forget" to tell them that he broke his shoulder as well as his leg when he had his accident in 2008? I don't think you could blame them for perhaps feeling a little bit narked...


I think it probably helps a lot that they won both championships anyway...


If I was Red Bull I would not let him play games with me again. Do you remember is press conference in Brazil whining that the team does not treat him fair? He lied after his big accident, too. This is a strange behavior for someone who claims to be a gentleman. I think this is a very difficult basis for the future.


And that the guy they'd prefer to win the drivers title won the title... 🙂


Wow. I'm pretty stunned by this, for a couple of reasons. First, it boggles my mind that he was able to drive as well as he did with a fractured shoulder. Not that I've ever had that particular injury, but I imagine every time he took a fast corner it felt like his arm was about to be ripped clean off! Second, it boggles my mind that he didn't tell Christian Horner or any other team members. I don't even know what to say about that.

Third, what exactly are you saying about Mark's dress sense, anyway? 😉


That's pretty interesting. I'm sure he'll have something in his contract about disclosing any injuries or health conditions that may effect his performance. An insurance company would have a fit about not being told, so I can only imagine that Red Bull won't be that impressed. I don't think we'd be reading about the shoulder if Alonso was world champion right now.

I hope you wrote the forward to his book James?



Vettel was just the better driver, period.

Lame excuses all the time by Webber, Alonso, Hamilton, etc.


Did he or did he not write this in his book? I didn't see him posting this on a website....


I love Red Bull. Don't get me wrong. They are my team, but first and foremost Mark is my driver.

And it makes me ache even more when I think how much that must've hurt him. Not so much physically (apart from the broken shoulder), but in terms of his emotional state. And like someone has already said on here, yes, we keep saying how appropriate his 'aussie grit' really is, but the extent to which that is tue is just immeasurable!

Every time I think I know things about Mark, he manges to surprise me!

He doesn't make excuses. Ok? He doesn't.

It's pretty similar to when I read that he suffered a delayed concussion after Valencia. God knows how that must've made him feel going into Silverstone.

I really don't want to get into a discussion here whether he was right or wrong not to tell RBR, but considering their treatment of him, I'm not surprised at his decision.

I really really feel for him. And for starters it wasn't his fault, how the hell is he not allowed to drive a bike? Hardly dangerous, is it? Maybe he should just stop walking and running and working out, too??

It's hardly Tassie Challenge!

Oh god, no wonder his emotions were all over the place at Brazillian GP, one can only hold his feelings inside for so long! :'(

And hey, yeah why wouldn't he tell RBR, when people like Marko and Berger only waited for such opportunity to bring him further down(!)

He is a legend to me. Hardly perfect, but very very close.

2011 is your year, Mark!


Interesting to hear ... casts a new light over his performance at the end of the year as well.

Speaking of books - your book arrived this weekend (not bad going for this part of the world) and I have to say that its excellent. Not only a great read now, but it will be an excellent reference to the season in years to come. Looks tremendous as well ... 10 quid well spent (honestly, most F1 books I buy I finish withing an afternoon and then regret wasting money on them, so far your books on Schumacher, Mansel's biography and now this have all been great. (This isn't James' mum writing this by the way!))


Thanks. Whereabouts are you?


I think people are over reacting to this BIG time. All he was doing at the end of the day was riding a bike! Yes there are risks involved, but it's like that with anything!

I'm sure it's more than just Mark who rides a bike amongst the F1 drivers, he has just been unlucky and has suffered an injury in a situation that is fairly circumstantial and unique. Yet people are all too quick to label him as 'reckless', 'stupid' and 'extreme'. Come on people, he was just riding a bike!


Well, I guess he could have come out at the time and told everyone, but then it would have just been seen as an excuse(at the time)so fair play to him. The incident in Korea was definately not down to the injury, just a driving mistake, which he happily admitted straight after. After watching the doc "When Playboys Ruled the World" it made me yearn for more of the modern day drivers to speak their mind (rather than corporate answers) and Mark can always be counted on to 'tell it like it is', and this is one of the reasons he has had a big fan following outside of Australia. So hats off to ya Mark, I hope you outperform Vettel at the start of 2011 to really spice things up at Red Bull again


I think Mark deserves a little credit for the fact that he didnt mention this during the run in. He was probably a little embarrased to say the least.

That bike ride will be something he'll never forget wont it. I'm not saying he would have won the WDC, but clearly an injury like that on a fitness based sport would have been less than helpful.

I can't imagine redbull will have anything in their contracts about dangerous pursuits, but maybe I'm wrong. I wonder what will be said behind closed doors.


Hi James,

Long time reader, first time commenter! It's a coincidence that you've posted this story because I actually noticed last week that Mark's 'Mark Webber Challenge' was announced as recommencing again in Dec '11. I assumed that after '08, he decided not to run the event while he was still an active driver. Could this be an indication that he'll be hanging up the helmet after next season?

Love your work!


I think he might. Put it this way, if he doesn't have the chance to drive a race winning car in 2012 then he'd be more likely to stop than carry on in a midfield car, in my view, but I'm not inside his head


well I guess it will explain the chip on his shoulder for 2011. boom-boom 😉


Mountain biking is not a 'risky extreme sport', unless you behave like a loon. And if you behave like a loon, crossing the road is a risky extreme sport. In this case, if his accident was caused by the guy in front having an incident, it is just bad luck if Webber took a fall. You can't say it was caused by irresponsibility in any way.

As for not telling the team, it seems clear the relationship is strictly business. The team clearly favours Vettell. That is understandable, as Vettell is the better driver with a full career in front of him, but you can't expect Webber to like it. What could the team have done about it if Webber had told them he was injured? Only give Vettell even more preference. Why would a guy leading the championship do something that was likely to make his team write him off?

I have no particular preference between the two drivers, but I have noticed two things about them in 2010:

1. the emergence of an unattractive and unimpressive side to Vettell's character that I hadn't seen before

2. considering Webber is supposed to be a bit of a journeyman and Vettell is supposed to be a superstar, I was surprised that Webber came extremely close to equalling Vettell and even beat him fair and square at times. Whether that is down to Vettell not always being able to handle the pressure, or to Webber being able to exceed his normal limits in his passion to compete I'm not sure, but it certainly surprised me.


Yep. Just add the 90-odd points that reliability cost Vettel.


It sounds like he was unlucky here. His mate fell and he couldn't avoid hitting him


So ... "not half bad for a No2 with a broken shoulder" ...

Jokes aside, the boy Webber was immense this year regardless and he remains one of the most positive people anywhere near F1 and one of my favourite sportsmen, regardless of the discipline.

Still, I imagine he is not looking forward for the 2012 premiums on his biking insurance.


It was an odd season for Mark. On the one hand he dropped some points with some silly crashes, but these were negated by equally silly crashes for the other contenders. Then at one point he seemed unstoppable before he ran out of steam.

I don't think the broken shoulder would have slowed him down much. In Abu Dhabi he knew it was over after the first pitstop and just brought the car home. The other races I just don't think he would have beaten Vettel whether he was 100% or not. It was just one of those years where his challenge ran out of steam just a couple of races early. I would like to see him take the title next year though, with just a tad less moaning.


I have been very critical of Mark Webber's performance and knocked him out of the top 5 drivers of the year because of his drop in form late season and his poor start of the season (in Bahrain particularly)

This, of course, changes everything - and I am not going to apologise for the criticisms I made of him (my criticisms were valid given the circumstances we were aware of) - and obviously this catapults him from my 'Did not make the grade' assessment to being right up there with Vettel (who I placed at #1) Without looking into the results with more scrutiny, I can't say how this affects where I would place him, but certainly, prior to Singapore he would have probably been first.

One final observation, and I would appreciate hearing your point of view James, is that this revelation all but clears Webber of any wrong doing in his Rosberg crash, the one Berger accused him of deliberately not preventing.

If Webber had a shoulder injury, then a further racing impact would stand a good chance of putting him out of contention for the rest of the season. So deliberately trying to deprive Hamilton (as that was the car Berger accused him of thinking he was going to collide with), one of the competitors furthest behind him in the rankings, of one result would not be worth the risk of putting himself out of the championship altogether.

Not that many people ever took the accusations seriously, but he would not want to take the risk of making him unfit to race in some or all of the remaining races.


yer i agree, in the crash webber takes his hands off the wheel somthing he normaly does not do in velencia he was still hold the wheel when he landed.

I think he took his hands off the wheel to protect his shoulder which would make sense abd explaines why the car turn back onto the track because the wheel spun freely


I think you'll find all drivers in all forms of motorsport take their hands off the steering wheel when a crash is imminent. Otherwise they could end up with broken thumbs or wrists from the s/wheel twisting violently.


Wow! Just reading through the comments, so many people here consider riding a bike to be an obvious incredibly dangerous risk, even for someone who has to train!

Wasn't going to post, but it just amazes me at how many people have said Webber shouldn't have taken done it given the risk!

I for one have ridden mountain bikes around tight hills over tree roots and over mounds of dirt days before important days, it really isn't dangerous, and its a flukey that twice in a row he has broken bones while riding a bike!

Can anyone else match braking bones back to back riding a bike?


I do a lot of mountain biking too and have yet to properly hurt myself. Webber's been unlucky to be 1) hit by a car and 2) have a mate crash in front of him


Yes James, but you must be aware of the dangers in mountain biking, that is why you wear quite a bit of protective gear. And if you had an accident you could still do your job, Mark Webber on the other hand... I just think he should have looked after himself better. Ultimately he was the one who paid the price for this.


I don't ware that much gear, a helmet and some light long sleeved clothing so I don't get attacked by trees and whatever I brush by.

You can be seriously hurt driving a car, by someone hitting you, maybe all f1 drivers shouldn't drive anywhere? Planes have had engine problems and can crash, so flying to each gp isn't such a grand idea either.

My point is that mountain bike riding isn't that dangerous and having broken bones twice in a row is so incredibly flukey and unlikely that you really can't hold it against someone for trying to keep a bit fit by going bike riding a week out from a gp


Patrick Depailler would be impressed. Why couldn't he just play tennis, you know, like Montoya?


PS, I'm a fan, but I am really unimpressed that he didn't tell Horner.


what a joke this is... then why was he not beating Vettel to pole the 4 races previous to this myterious shoulder problem? please stop making excuses James... he was horrible at the end


"what a joke this is… then why was he not beating Vettel to pole the 4 races previous to this myterious shoulder problem?"

Er in the 4 races previous to Japan Mark won in Hungary, had pole and finished 2nd at Spa. At Monza qualified 4th ahead of Vettel 6th and in Singapore finished 3rd behind Vettel 2nd. No jokes there buddy


"horrible at the end"

If coming second 2 times out of four races is "horrible" than I think there's probably about 18 other drivers in the premier motorsport category in the world who'd love to be "horrible"


not beating vettel to pole in the previous 4 races?

Singapore - Vettel did beat him in Q

Italy (Monza) - Webber qualified better than Vettel (neither pole as it wasn't a RB6 track)

Belgium (Spa) - Webber DID qualify on pole, Vettel in 4th

Hungary - vettel webber 1-2

Can you (michael s) please actually check to make sure you are right before posting? That was 2-2 in who outqualified who. And if you average out the positions webber qualified overall better (v-w 1-2 4-1 6-4 2-5 [v=1+4+6+2=13, w=2+1+4+5=12, lower is better).

And on a comic note, sorry JA, you weren't the first to post it, here it Melbourne, the ditzy what-do-sports-stars-do-on-there-time-off-and-other-gossip back page of the herald sun or age (can't remember) actually made a note of it in a column.

But then it wasn't exaplined there, so good job anyway being the first to do it properly!


I'm not making excuses, I'm reporting a news story the first to do so in this case.


Four things:

1) Mountain biking is not the wisest way to spend your free time when you are in the middle of the fight for the F1 DWC

2) One should always be careful before judging the drivers' performances because one does not always know the real reasons behind them

3) I would love to read Mark's book but at the moment the shipping costs are too high (at least when you try to order it by clicking on the link on Mark's web page). I hope that this book will soon be available either on Amazon UK or on EBay.

4) JA's book arrived in Riga, Latvia on Saturday. Not bad for a number two country.


@ Ben: ...you are certainly correct in saying that accusations about Webber trying to cause ANY kind of accident, or continued accident, are not only absurd but ignorant, and reflect a bit of conspiratorial paranoia.

With Webber's end of season miss-steps, I had more or less written off his chances of ever really competing with Vet-the-Jet.

This revelation increases my optimism about 2011...as long as Mark finds some other form of cardio work out.


Well shades of Wikileaks... what else don't we know about Mark Webber? Let's face it -- there's only one word to describe his amazing Red Bull career rescue from F1 oblivion, and that word is VETTEL.


As a Webber fan i can't disagree with you there. Vettel certainly made Mark raise his game. You could also say the opposite as well. Mark kept Vettel on his toes.



Do you think this is where the 'age' argument comes into play? Without a doubt, Webber has the fitness/reflexes required to compete at the top level. But surely recovery time is elongated due to age?

Along a similar vein. Do F1 drivers need to physically recover after a race, or is it more of a mental recovery?


Declan, I cycle and sail a lot, normally 9 months a year and I will confirm that now I'm 35 (36 in a month) that injuries take longer to heal. I've had no serious injuries, but simple things like scrapes from cycling take longer and scar.

I wore a new pair of shoes a few weeks ago and got a blister, but its still healing! Mosquito bites seem to scar more than ever and marks/scars from paintball shooting from summer still show.A few years ago that was not the case and they would go away. On the upside though, things like stamina and energy are better than ever?

I guess its a mentality issue where determination becomes stronger with age, but the body is not the same.


Great determination from Aussie grit to finish where he did given his injury situation.

On the other hand its pretty stupid esp considering the fact that you are leading a World championship. Montoya's career went nowhere after his Tennis accident

Marty McSuperfly

Was he not drug tested in those final races of the season? Informing an FIA doctor sounds a little open for abuse. Surely the team has a right to know? They are his employers after all. Anyway, seems a bit silly to try to hide it.

I'm not saying cortisone, which is a steroid, should mean he gets banned, far from it. But I would be suprised if the drivers were not regularly tested. I seem to remember Hakkinen back in '99 getting let of for using a cold medicine that would have got you banned if used in athletics.

James any info on FIA drug testing?


Someone buy him some stabilisers this christmas!


I have had a fractured shoulder too, it is not as much as a big deal as it sounds, seriously. Especially with medication you don't feel any change, no matter how much I stressed it with extreme weightlifting (which I do semi-pro competitively).

Webber mentioning this is just him trying to tell the world he is the most amazing driver ever and if it was not for this huge handicap (yawn), he would easily won the championship of course.

It's like watching FoxNews. Why not just admit your much younger teammate beat you with the same material.

The one thing this proves is that Webber definitely isn't a teamplayer, he does not think about the team (which is why he kept it a secret and still suggested the team to fully support him and let Vettel drive for him), he only thought about himself.


You haven't read the book have you, he only mentions it in passing, not an excuse at all!


That is pretty sneaky of him, there are 2 options here:

1. He is not a teamplayer and demanded the team to support him and make Vettel serve him, while he knew his injury made things difficult. Very selfish.

2. He knows the injury didn't have an effect on his driving, he just dropped the ball and now uses this as an excuse to make people think it was because of an injury, trying to take away what Vettel accomplished. Very dirty tactic.

Both options make me less sympathetic to him, while I was rooting for him. He uses the media way too much to make himself look like some hero. And his friends in the media love propagating it.

Ah, whatever, I am done with him, go Vettel.


Well, if he had told Red Bull, he would most likely been put to help Vettel out, therefor, it is understandable why he did choose not to tell the team.

And, he does not use it as an excuse, this was not why he lost the car in Korea and if he had gotten a 1st or 2nd there, he would've gotten 260 points, and therefor won the championship anyway.


Spot on!! wouldn't put it better myslef!


It seems he rides a mountain bike the same way as he drives an F1 car, namely "you wanna pass me? Ok, I will make sure we crash and make it look like you are to blame!"

Haha, karma.


Well whatever works eh ?

Pretty simple really.

If you can...

A. Prevent someone form passing.

B. Have them out of the race when they try.

C. Receive no penalty for it.

Then you have done better than just preventing a pass. In fact its brilliant. Although i'm

sure Lewis wouldnt agree.


Exactly. Its what the late, great Senna made a career out of. Don't hear many complaints about his driving.


This is interesting ... Vettel's chassis had a small crack that was why he did not do so well in Barcelona and Monaco .... Webber' shoulder had a small fracture that's why his form dropped in Japan, Korea and abu Dhabi


Hey DK, did you know Webber has similar cracks in his chassis too? Apparently they are common, the chassis get repaired.


Grow up you lot!

Pretty much all the drivers use road and/or mountain biking as part of their fitness regime throughout the year. And this could just as easily have happened on the road as on the trail.

Some people just get lucky, others make their luck, Aussie Grit makes it and breaks it. That's life.


The crash that Webber had in Korea looked very strange and it probably costed Nico Rosberg a sure podium finish. Is it possible that because of using pain killers his concentration was impaired ? Was it a bit selfish of him to compromise other drivers chances for scoring points ?

michael grievson

A lot of people here seem to miss the fact his mate crashed and Webbo had no where to go. Im sure a lot if drivers, who train nearly everyday do a lot of sport to keep fit. I wouldnt say mountain biking is dangerous but I would say there is a risk in every sport whether it be football to golf.

Plus if Webbo fractured the bone in the past it will be weaker now and more susceptible to damage.


Does "up front" mean "up there among front runners" or rather refers to "being honest"? Anyone?


i think it is meant to play both ways


Scott, that's what I thought. Thanks.


This topic made me think about something Kubica was saying in an interview a while ago. He does rallying and other teams would not let him do both, but Renault would.

If that is a reason why he is driving where he is, then fair play to the guy for doing what he wants and enjoys.

On Webber and as a cyclist myself, it just happens and its all luck, I've never had anything serious happen to me other than being knocked out once, but no broken bones. If you don't cycle then you don't understand why its addictive. Accidents happen and its amazing that insurance companies don't add a premium for Cycling but they do for Sailing!


The man gets in a car and goes 200mph inches from concrete walls and apparently mountain biking is reckless?

The haters will take any excuse they can get.

This just makes me more proud of Webber's year.


I knew there was a reason his performance dropped off. I watched every race throughout the year and what a great job he was doing along the way. I have no doubt it contributed to at least a 10th off pace. JA agrees. It would have been a very different grid if Mark was up by a 10th or two in the last qualies.

Put all those lateral G's in on a fractured bone and see how you perform. You will be in pain. If Mark had have told Horner what would horner do ? They would have favoured seb. He knows that, Christian knows that and so does the public. He had no choice but to keep it private. He is under no pressure to win next year so i expect he will be relaxed.

Boy i'm lookin forward to 2011 !


Shopping list of excuses!


Not really. Its just a short paragraph in his book. Whats the point in writing a book about his 2010 season if he doesn't tell his readers what happened?


Mark did a similar thing with "us" in 2005 didn't he? Spent the first bit of that season driving with a cracked rib without telling the public. He seems content to put up with whatevers bothering him, wear the flak and then just quietly leak out details later with no fuss, just to set the record straight. Probably the way it should be done, he doesn't want it to be seen as an excuse at the time.


Hi James, as a long time F1 and Mark Webber supporter (from formula ford days) it is awesome to see how much interest and controversy Webber has been involved with this year. It is amazing to see how much Mark's stock has risen this year and how undervalued his talent has been until now. I don't want to focus on the intimate details of who supported who, what fractures may do to your performance etc, just look at the big picture and say what a great year to be an Aussie F1 supporter, what a great year for MW and with the pool of talent we have now what a formidable time for it to be happening to him.

Bring on next year, let it be as filled with passion as this one.


He may have been also afraid that FIA doctors would not had let him race with a broken shoulder.

That the docs could had ruled him not fit to race, was a strong possibility.

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