Mark Webber and Ferrari
Scuderia Ferrari
Posted By: James Allen  |  02 May 2012   |  12:34 pm GMT  |  246 comments

Ferrari knows that it needs more points than it is scoring at the moment from its second car. Last year Felipe Massa scored only 45% of Fernando Alonso’s points tally. This season so far, described as make or break for Massa by both team boss Stefano Domenicali and Ferrari president Luca Montezemolo, Massa has 4% of Alonso’s points.

And so rumours have begun to swirl again about the possibility of Ferrari hiring Mark Webber to partner Alonso on a short term contract.

The story originated in Spain’s El Confidential, which claimed that the deal was already done and it has been fanned by the Australian media.

Webber, 35, addressed the rumours in a media briefing last night in Mugello. He said that he had not signed anything, but stopped short of denying that there was anything going on.

“Sergio was flavour of the month last week for the Ferrari drive; now it’s me,” Webber said. “I’m focusing 100 per cent on this season and doing the best job for myself and Red Bull Racing. I’m not putting any energy into anything else. We have a whole season ahead before you start thinking about our future. One day there is talk that Jenson (Button) will go to Ferrari, then Sergio, now me.

“I have not signed anything. Just think about my team. We have made a good start to the season, we’ve done only four races and the road is still very, very long before you start talking about the future.”


I’ve written about this before, several times. There has been contact in the past between the two and Webber has been on Ferrari’s radar for a number of reasons; he gets on well with Fernando Alonso and is liked by Stefano Domenicali and others, he’s uncomplicated and he’s fast. He also has a lot of experience and solid engineering understanding, both of which Ferrari prize.

Many people assume that Sergio Perez is the natural choice for the Ferrari team, as he has been groomed by them in much the same way that Felipe Massa was. His berth at Sauber is part of that time-honoured process, and Perez is also a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy. However the Mexican still has a lot to prove. He is only 22 and has only one year’s worth of experience and it is not Ferrari’s way to sign drivers without quite a lot more experience than that. Massa was a bit of an exception, coming to them at 25 after three seasons with Sauber from 2002 to 2005. He also had a stint as Ferrari test driver in the days when that meant covering a serious mileage.

For Perez to be ready for Ferrari will take at least another year if not two. So it is logical, if Ferrari is thinking of dropping Massa, that it should look for a solution for the next two years and Webber is the obvious choice. He is on a rolling one year contract, keeping his options open on both sides.

There are two obvious question marks; he is a very competitive individual, so the thought of moving from Red Bull to Ferrari, if it is not a competitive car, would require some reflection. But as a keen student of the sport’s history, he may feel that with one or two years of his career left, a stint at Ferrari would add a prestigious cap to his career.

There is also the question of “not bad for a number two driver” – Webber’s famous line from the British Grand Prix of 2010 where he was disadvantaged by the team when they gave his front wing to team mate Vettel. This side of Webber is not compatible with the “Fernando is faster than you” school of management at Ferrari, to quote engineer Rob Smedley’s line when asking Felipe Massa to move aside for his team mate in Germany in 2010. Alonso is clearly the point man at Ferrari and Webber would have to find a way of fitting in with that.

Leaving aside those philosophical issues, let’s examine the practicalities. Webber’s position at Red Bull is underpinned by the support of two key people in the team; Adrian Newey and the owner Dietrich Mateschitz. Newey knows him as a reference point and trusts his instincts, while Mateschitz has always supported Webber and has a strong personal relationship with the driver. Webber does his deals direct with the boss.

Others within Red Bull are more keen to see new drivers come into the team, primarily Helmut Marko, who is responsible for the young driver development programme. For this programme to maintain its legitimacy and credibility it needs to produce another top quality driver from Toro Rosso, ready to drive a Red Bull. By abruptly dropping Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi last Christmas they left themselves in a position where they have two inexperienced drivers in the Toro Rosso team, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne. It would be asking a lot of either of them to step up to Red Bull alongside Vettel next year.

Vettel himself took that path but he had done 26 races, many of them in a competitive 2008 Toro Rosso by the time he moved up. Ricciardo has done 15 GPs to date, mostly at the back of the field and will have done 31 by the time this season ends, whereas Vergne is in his first season of F1 and has twice failed to get out of Q1. It would be a gamble to go with either man to sit alongside Vettel, who is a two times world champion at the top of his game in a team built around him.

Webber is on a rolling one year contract and common sense would suggest that Red Bull would be thinking of promoting one of the Toro Rosso drivers in 2014 rather than 2013. But a move by Webber towards Ferrari might force the issue.

Don’t miss the latest JA on F1 podcast out this week, all about how to get the most out of an F1 driver. It’s free to download just click HERE

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1

Hey there! Would you mind if I share your blog with my twitter group?

There’s a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.

Please let me know. Many thanks

2

ive ben a f1 fanatic for all my life and yeh weber would be great for ferrari but we must not forget if we dont get competition we dont get better that is why weber now is a fantastic driver due to rb what do u think????

3

Personally, I’d love to see Webber go to Ferrari for two seasons. I think Webber is shooting himself in the foot by staying at Red Bull and he should’ve gone somewhere else after Vettel’s first championship, as it’s painfully obvious who Red Bull prefer.

Realistically, Ferarri or Mercedes are Webber’s only options to get a decent drive, as you can’t discount the fact that Schumacher might call it a day after this season. Grosjean looks pretty handy so Renault.. sorry, Lotus will be keeping him and Kimi. Button and Hamilton will still be at McLaren next season.

Quite insulting to say Webber talks a better race than he drives and compare him to Coulthard!

4

And who do you think Ferrari prefer? Red Bull prefer Vettel because he’s better. Webber lost that title to Vettel despite Vettel having the lion’s share of the car failures, remember.

5

Why would Mark Webber go to ferrari, I for one see no “prestige” to end ones career there. In fact its more an elephants graveyard.

It was Ross Brawns ( a man of dubious character)input into the team that made them ” dominate” for so long (makes you wonder about spygate)

But my opinion of Mark he is a “Coultard” he talks a better race than he drives, he’ll stay at RB as long as they want him.

6

You’d have to be an idiot to swap Red Bull for Ferrari if Mark has the choice!. But lets look at it another way..Is Mark a championship driver? Does he have more than a few years to offer Ferrari at top level. I would say Ferraris best choice right now is Sergio Perez. I would love to see Jamie Algessuari back -maybe in Sauber. Massa will have to move on. I would love to see Lewis in a Mercedes once we see the back of Michael Schumacher. I think Daniel Ricciardo will fill Marks seat at RBR..

7

I remember Dr Marko stating this was Marks last year at Redbull. So it’s one of two things, Mark retires or he drives for another team.

The real question should be, who else is Ferrari hiring because just one new Driver does not turn a team around.

The success they have had so far this season, is from the exceptional Driving skills of Alonso and big amount of luck.

8

Great article James and insider lines about relation between Mark and the boss. Where is Robert Kubica stand right now? Is his F1 career pretty much over? What is the likelihood of Alonso moving if Ferrari failed to deliver anything soon enough? Do you think both Hamilton or Vettel can also switch their teams in the next 2 years?

9

Love the insight there James. Aussie here, so would love to see Webber in a Ferrari seat (even if i’m not a fan of Ferrari) and see Ricciardo of course in the RBR seat in 2013 and give Vettle a run for his millions. But the complete late of experience is a concern, its almost setting him up to fail at RBR, so maybe not be the best move for Ricciardo.

But this does all depend on what Webber does, but ultimately. Like you said, his a competitive guy and as long as his fast he will race and he will only race to win and that’s to win the Drivers Title. And the last few years Ferrari have come back strong in the season, but they have had bad starts, and well F1 rewards consistency.

So for me, its easy, you make the judgement call, if RBR is going to be competitive in 2013, and a marginally stronger car, then i say stay, a team around Vettel with a fast car is better than a team built around Alonso with a lousy car.

He made the call to go to Williams way back when, and it was the wrong move, just because of history isn’t a good enough reason to switch.

I think Mark would MUCH rather have the tag of “Former Formula 1 World Driver Champion” than “Former Ferrari Driver”

10

James i would reeeally love some of your inside perspective on this….

Do you think there is any possibility of Hamilton leaving McLaren next year and Webber replacing him?

He would still be with a top team and would have a better chance of equal status that at any of the other big guns.

I guess this depends on what the chances are of Hamilton leaving and would Webber be what McLaren want?

Always love hearing your analysis on Ten/One in Australia, keep up the good work!

11

You never know in F1 but if Hamilton did leave the only place I can see him going is Mercedes.

But I think he’ll stay put.

12

James

Do you have any information to back up these

rumours, or is this article based on chinese whispers where one F1 journalist has written a discussion piece, and now the remaining F1 journalists feel obliged to comment on it?

It’s hard to tell from this article whether you have any inside information, or whether you’re simply commenting on what other reporters have already written – in which case, can you advise on how reputable those reporters are, and if the rumours are likely to be based on fact? And in your own expert view, what’s the likely probability of this move coming off?

13

No, there is a round of rumours at the moment and one publication in Spain has said it’s a done deal. I don’t believe it is and Webber has responded by saying that its isn’t.

However his denial is open ended and I’m giving some background here to the situation, as there has been contact in the past, Ferrari does clearly need an answer to the second car problem and this is the context for where the situation is at the moment.

That’s all really. The aim on this site is to provide insight and to bring fans a bit closer to the sport

14

Massa needs a great car to be comptetitive. Then the gap would be less between him and Alonso. With a difficult car, Alonso can extract performance from nothing.

I don’t think Ferrari would risk dropping Massa mid year though, with an eye to what happened when Fisi joined part way through a season.

By the same resoning, I think Webber will think long and hard before leaving a Newey designed car.

15
luca Giacomin

Experience has nothing to do with it, >>>HAMILTON 2007.

Either you can drive an f1 car fast on the limit or you can’t. FULL STOP.

Is all this talk about experience inferring Hamilton is a God?? No. F1 cars are not that big a jump they used to be.

Perez can do the business at Ferrari he’s showing it this year. Webber is not a no.2 driver that would bow down easily, it’s not in his nature.

END.

16

Webber’s move to Ferrari would make no sense this year- look at Fisi’s disastrous end to his career, plus I cannot see how moving to a team with a slower car and a team completely settled around Alonso is a good thing.

Next year might just make more sense, depending on how Ferrari finish the season. But it would only really be for a Ferrari feather in his cap.

Ultimately, both Red Bull and Ferrari present the same problem- far too dominant no.1 drivers. Webber is therefore best keeping it as simple as possible- simply try and get a seat in the fastest car.

PS Next season I see no reason why Perez couldn’t be in a position to step up to Ferrari.

17

James, Hi!

Mark Webber is still on top form, he is the guy doing the hard steady development and on-track work at Red Bull. It wouldn’t surprise me to find Vettel is running Mark’s set-ups. If Webber moved to Ferrari they would get somebody with experience from the top technical team in F1, a proven test & development driver, and a top never-say-die competitor. I would like to see him in a Ferrari, and I suspect so would Ferrari. I wonder what name the Tifosi would give him?

18
Mike from Medellin, Colombia

Il piloto numero due..

19
Jack Flash (Aust)

il canguro volante (the flying kangaroo)

20
Jack Flash (Aust)

il combattente (the fighter)

21

Difficult decision for Mark….

Aside from the “No 2 driver” issue (we all know his feelings on THAT topic) leave it another year and his stock may not get him into the Ferrari seat in 2014 as by then a certain Mexican may have planted his backside inside the cockpit of the prancing horse. Every driver would love to drive for Ferrari. But a non competitive one? Hmmmm. I dont think so.

If Red Bull offers a better chance of a title than Ferrari (which they currently do in ’12 and are more likely to do in ’13) then my prediction is Mark seeing out his career on the back of a Bull, not a Horse.

22

“my prediction is Mark seeing out his career on the back of a Bull, not a Horse”

So Lamborghini to buy Torro Rosso then? 😉

23

Either way, its not a horsey : )

24

James, another great article on your fantastic website.

What exactly were you referring to at the beginning of the article when you mention that this is not the first time MW has been contracted/linked to Ferrari…? Was there actually something more concrete in the past, and if there was what happened to it?

Cheers,

25

James I thought Flavio Briatore managed both FA and MW although I’m not sure whether he’s allowed to represent drivers officially again.

Can you provide your thoughts on whether you feel he might be influencing things here. thanks

26

I think Webber is not the #2 driver in RedBull and RedBull has equal treatments on both drivers. I feel the steep competitions between team mates in 2010 that brewed up the two incidents (similar to Mclarens in 2007). I think Webber will be a clear #2 at Ferrari as long as Alonso is around.

So If Webber wants a competitive car and fare treatment then Red Bull. If he wants the fame of driving a Ferrari and possibly a huge salary then Ferrari.

27

James,

What is it the padddock opinion of the forgotten Kovalainen and Glock these days?

Both have driven adequately in top teams and I’m sure took contract with the new teams to tread water in the hope some of the top line teams will turn to them when seats become available. Have they trully been forgotten?

There’s a fair few years experience between them now and I’m sure are hungry. They’ve been pushing cars past their limits for going on 3-years. I’m sure they’d surprise a few people if given a Merc or a Red Bull… No?

28

Paddock view of Kova is pretty positive. He’s had the right attitude at Team Lotus/Caterham, kept his head down and worked hard. Got few rewards so far, although getting into Q2 in Bahrain was a positive step. He’s one of those drivers who is ready for a second chance with a top team if the way opens up.

Glock likewise although he’s less on the radar as the Marussia is further off the pace.

What I would say is that they both have outstanding start records, They almost always make up places off the line, getting ahead of midfield cars

29
James Clayton

James, do you ever see the possibility of Kovalainen back at McLaren if Lewis does jump ship? I wonder if he’d fare better a second time around?

30

I’m a long time Ferrari fan, and a Webber fan, and would love to see it happen, but only if Ferrari have a c/ship winning car. I think MW will decide to go again next year, and if that happens, RBR would be mad not to keep him.

When I heard this rumour again the other day, I dismissed it as a slow news day, but when JA brings it up, for me that gives it some traction.

The language barrier may hinder Webber a little, but I’d love nothing more to see MW and FA fighting it out in the same car…in the rain, i think that would highlight a slight weakness on FA’s part.

31
Adrian Newey Jnr

I don’t think Webber will be going anywhere for at least another year. This will just be posturing from his manager as part of contract talks. He is finally at a competitive team, has a good relationship with his engineer and therefore has no incentive to leave. Money has never been a factor for Mark, so that won’t be an issue either. I think the bigger question is what would motivate Mark to leave? Being late 30s means you still have a lot of your life ahead of you. Hence why I think he’ll want to stay in F1 for as long as possible.

32

In the course of this likely game of musical chair, I am interested to know about the future of another young man.

James, do you see Alguersuari fitting into the grid next year at all? If yes, where could be his destination? Hope you can throw some light on it.

P.S.- Sorry for going off topic!!

33

I hope so for his sake, I could see his progress last year and even voted for him as one of my Top 5 Drivers of the year, due to that progress.

I’ve got to know him quite well this year and he’s intelligent, very sharp picking things up, very decisive. Pirelli test drive is a good platform to try to get back in. He deserves to be in F1, certainly

34
Tom in adelaide

So much experience at such a young age – it seems a real waste for him to be sitting on the sidelines.

35
tom in adelaide

To whoever is drawing up the aforementioned cartoon – could we please also have one of Mark responding to a Rob Smedley driving tip?

Heck, why not make it a weekly comic strip feature? Mark’s cheek bones must be a cartoonists dream come true!

36

Does anybody know if Flavio Briatore is still Mark’s manager and whether he’s orchestrating the negotiations?

37

I thought Flavio was banned from any involvement in Formula 1. Or is it just from being a team manager?

38
Luke Harrison

He wasn’t banned from management from what i remember.

39

Im just going to put it out there, and im surprised no one else has mentioned this, Micheal Shuey back to Ferrari? At best I would imagine he has a couple of years left in him, It would be a perfect fit.

40
Tom in adelaide

I was thinking this to myself the other day (must be an Adelaide thing!). Surely he will be running the team in 5 years or so? Ferrari obviously still have a lot of love for him.

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