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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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Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

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.


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.


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.


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?


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 !


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.


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!


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.

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.


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 ?


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.


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.


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.


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!


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!


Someone buy him some stabilisers this christmas!

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?


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



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.


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.


@ 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.


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.


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.


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.


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

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