Mark Webber bows out of Formula 1
Red Bull Racing
Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Nov 2013   |  11:33 am GMT  |  249 comments

This Sunday in Brazil, Mark Webber bows out of F1, after a 12 year career featuring 215 Grands Prix starts and nine wins. He’d dearly love to make it ten, with a third victory at Interlagos, but F1 is an unsentimental business and his team mate Sebastian Vettel is in no mood to give him presents.

Memories will be fresh for both men of the start of last year’s race, where Webber took an aggressive stance in the opening corners towards Vettel, who was fighting for the world championship. In the ensuing sort-out Vettel and Bruno Senna tangled, sending Vettel to the back of the field.

The extent to which that rankled with Vettel became clear when Adrian Newey spoke about in it in a recent BBC Radio 5 Live special. There will be no love lost this Sunday at the start.


Webber cast himself as “not bad for a number two driver” after his famous win at Silverstone in 2010. This was at the height of Webber’s competitiveness and therefore of the tension between the two drivers, after they had collided in Turkey. Red Bull’s decision to give Vettel Webber’s front wing in Silverstone without telling him, was one of the worst decisions made by an F1 team in terms of the negative impression it created to the public, which still endures to this day. Vettel was – and always has been – good enough to compete without that kind of advantage and it colours the fans’ view of him and the team still.

In reality, Webber was in his prime in 2010 and since then, as he has aged, it’s been a difficult job to hold onto Vettel, who has developed significantly, especially with the exhaust blown diffuser cars, which require a certain technique to maximise the performance. Just latterly, Webber has been performing very well, taking pole in two of the last four races, but his race performances have been slightly further away from Vettel than his qualifying.


Nevertheless he is leaving on a high and would love to walk out of the Interlagos paddock on Sunday night with a winners’ trophy. The Red Bull should be the form car there so qualifying will be important and from there we’ll see if Webber can raise his game to deny Vettel a nine race winning streak.

Webber’s great strengths are his speed, particularly in high speed corners and his aerodynamic sensitivity. He’s always qualified well and raced well particularly when there is a challenge, like coming through the field on a multi-stop strategy. His feel for grip on a track was highlighted in the days of single lap qualifying, where he excelled; nailing the time on the one and only lap available.

Newey has paid tribute to his aerodynamic sensitivity and it’s one of the main reasons he is still at Red Bull, where Helmut Marko would have loved to get rid of him years ago. His feel for the aero balance of a car perfectly complimented Vettel’s feel for tyres and control systems on the car and between them they have tuned the Red Bull cars in to every track. You never hear either of them say the set up was wrong, for example. Without Webber, the less experienced Vettel of the last few years might not have had such a good car on race day.

“I think it has been one of the strongest pairings in Formula 1,” Vettel said in Interlagos on Thursday.

“We obviously didn’t have the best relationship on a personal level but in terms of working professionally together for the team it has been very strong. Both of us have tried very hard to improve the car and surely the fact that he will not be around next year will be a loss for the team, a loss for myself, because it has always been a huge challenge.

“I have learned a lot from him and I can stand up straight and say that there were many, many times, many places where I have benefitted from him.”

The Pirelli years haven’t been too kind to Webber, his advantage in the high speed corners is there for qualifying (as we saw in Austin) but in the race it hurts the tyres, so he has to rein it in. He has also struggled to feel the car on worn soft tyres towards the end of stints, where he loses time. But, as he says, it’s the same for everyone. It’s just a shame that it takes away a lot of what being a “racer” is all about. Just ask Lewis Hamilton.


Webber and his family, have always been a pleasure to deal with; he is as straight as he seems on TV and always seeks to help people he trusts to understand the sport better. He was a huge help to me when I wrote the 2007 biography of Michael Schumacher, “The Edge of Greatness”.

That doesn’t mean that one should gloss over his weaknesses; he is an emotional character and sometimes that comes to the surface, which has harmed his competitiveness in some races. Despite his huge experience he is also still quite nervous at the start of races and his start performance stats are among the worst of the top drivers. This has cost him many points over the years, as he dropped places off the line after qualifying strongly.


The highlight has to be the way Webber ran Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton close for the 2010 championship.

Going into the final round at Abu Dhabi that year Alonso had 246 points, Webber 238, Vettel 231 and Hamilton 222. Webber didn’t get the most from himself or the car in qualifying and the race and ended up 14 points behind Vettel, who clinched his first world title.

Webber has been handing out T Shirts to be worn this weekend in Brazil with #mademymark on it and it’s a fitting send off for a popular driver. There is no-one coming through who is like him, no-one who will speak his mind like that. It’s a loss to the sport.

“Not bad for a number two driver” – is his own self penned epitaph and the one people will remember. It’s tough, but truthful (like him).

But he was so much more than that in F1 – as a driver and as a man.

* Although he’s not taking part himself, the Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge will take place at the end of this month, billed as the “toughest in the event’s history”. The running, kayaking and cycling challenge in the wilds of Tasmania has been a pet project of Webber’s for ten years and raises money for charity.

The stars in the event, which starts on November 27, include Olympic gold medallists Emma Snowsill and Kenny Wallace, triathlete Courtney Atkinson, seven-time surf champ Layne Beachley – and Mad Max stuntman and former ironman Guy Andrews.

Webber’s protege, GP2 racer Mitch Evans, will take part in the event, “He’s given me a bit of advice,” said Evans. “He thinks I will be fine, as we train together most of the time he has a good idea of where I’m at. I have high expectations in terms of it being seriously tough mentally and physically. I can’t wait to test myself.”

The Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge supports Whitelion and the Save the Tassie Devil appeal

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1

Thank you James for the well written article. Outlining Webber’s strengths and weaknesses of the last few seasons has helped me understand some of the missing pieces. Aside from Vettel being the brilliant talent that he is, I thought Webber would have had more success in the dominant Red Bull car.

2

I always felt Webber comes off as a little rude and frosty. Always moaning about something, has a bit of an attitude to the media. Kimi does too, but I think Kimi is a rude brat.

Webber aas always one to play psychological games with his teammates, but it failed miserably against Vettel. Then there’s the whole ignoring team orders at the British Grand Prix 2011, making life as difficult as possible for Vettel at Brazil last year, but milked the public’s sympathy for all it was worth when the shoe was on the other foot in Malaysia.

When people call him straightforward maybe they mean in terms of intelligence because what he does seems transparent to me, but I don’t see him as this honest straight shooting guy. He’s honest when it serves him and that’s about it.

3

I pity you German Samurai

4

As a result of how Mark was discriminated against because he was not European, i will always support who ever is racing against redbull sponsored car. in any form of motorsport. That includes Daniel riccardio.

5

It is interesting people talk about 2010. As much as I like Webber, let’s not forget he threw his chance away. In that same race, Vettel’s car broke down!! If Vettel didn’t have reliability issues that day, no one would have got so worked up thinking Webber had a chance going into Abu Dhabi.

I am not a Vettel fan the way he conducts himself at times but he is one hell of a quick driver. It was his speed that broke Webber in Korea. Mark should have just let him go. He could have at worst collected 18 points and at best, 25 when Vettel’s car broke down. Instead he got a big fat 0 while Alonso won.

Not bad for a number 2 is true. He is a number 2. For all the talk that he “destroyed” all his previous team mates according to Horner, he really didn’t. His qualifying pace has always been wow but he has been prone to allowing his race pace to cause him to go backwards.

6

Very sad its webber last race in f1, hes been at both ends of the grid and really worked his way up . Super quick and always told it how it was . Carnt help think with abit of lady luck on his side he would have clinched that 2010 title and that would have pushed him on these last couple of years, instead it kind of knocked the stuffing out of him . All in all a very very good racing driver and all round good bloke , sad to see him go .

7

It was amazing just seeing him get to F1; I believe at 18 he was delivering pizzas in Queanbeyan, quite a different career path to most of his contemporaries. He was just another driver Australian trying to make it in Europe, and pre ‘net, reading about each setback – funding, Le Mans, funding, aborted test contract – in Motorsport News or Auto Action made me wonder how long he’d stick it out. After some good performances at Minardi and Jag, then turning down Renault, it looked like Red Bull would have been a few more years in the midfield. Who knew how successful they’d be? This coincided with getting a teammate who may break every record in F1… I’d also like to say, I hope Ann Neal gets some coverage this weekend, she’s a genuine racing person and a huge part of his career.

8

James, I couldn’t resist coming back, thank you for this article.

I’m reminded of something I read in Autosport when Denny Hulme retired, it had words to the effect, ‘he retires with health and humour intact’.

In an era when Dan Wheldon died and Dario F has been told not to race again, it is no small thing to leave the sport intact, especially given some of Mark’s efforts at passing other cars.

Silverstone 2010 will always get a mention, but for me the pattern was set in practice for Turkey 2010. While Seb was given new end plates for three practice sessions, Webber was only given access to them a few minutes before qualifying. He promptly set pole.

The 15 points he lost in Turkey when Seb ran him off the track might have seen him as champion in 2010, even allowing for the self inflicted crashes in Korea and Valencia.

Many comments here say MW is political. Of course he is, how else do you stay in a team when a junior driver is being managed into leading positions all the time. A pattern than continued ’11, ’12 and ’13 but without the same visibility.

MW retains Deitrich M as patron, so there will be no tell-all book after his time in F1.

I just wish him well, he has some notches on his belt that very few can lay claim to.

9

…and I think he probably gave the best interviews on the grid – something the myriad F1 scribblers and talking heads will miss.

Amazingly enough he seemed to always actually answer the questions he was asked rather than wheel out the predictable, corporate, boilerplate responses.

Absolutely 🙂

10

As a relatively young Australian F1 viewer, Mark was the biggest factor in getting me interested in Formula 1. I’m going to miss the hard fought yet fair racing between Mark and Alonso. All the best with Porsche Mark!

11

OMG! Everyone is trying to stoo the Red Bukk domination by trying to plant seeds in brains. Ferrari in Vettel’s, Cuo sailing in Newey’s, and control of FOM in Horner’s. Knock it off people! 2014 WDC to focus on! 5 in a row.

http://www.planetf1.com/news/3213/9035338/Ecclestone-Horner-Would-Be-Ideal

12

Thanks James. Always enjoy your interviews with Mark before the race on Channel 10 in Australia.

Followed F1 for a long time now. Cheered Mark on as well as other drivers. Hated Shumacher in his winning years and then found myself cheering him on during his comeback years.

F1 has been great. It’s stories like Vettel and Mark that makes it fun to watch. All the drivers on the grid have interesting stories to tell of the hardships they have had to endure to get to where they are. Some are lucky and get a bit further but put it all together and you have F1.

Will miss Webber next year. Will still be looking for the yellow circle on his helmet.

Good luck to his future pursuits and bring on the next generation in the ever evolving F1 story.

Cheers to all previous posters (Marks fans and non fans). Took me ages to get to the bottom of the page.

13

As an Aussie, thanks for giving us reasons to stay up and watch F1 and cheer you on (with more than occasional outburst if frustration too).

You`ve given us great highs (Melbourne 2002, any time you put that Jaguar through qualy, Germany 2009, almost all of 2010, around Alonso at Eau Rouge in 2011, and Monaco and Silverstone 2012) and we`ve shared some of your epic lows (Williams in 2005 and 2006, Suzuka in 2007, Valencia 2010, Korea 2010, Malaysia 2013 and any race on Pirelli tyres), but most importantly thanks for keeping it real!

#mademymark

14

Ill be watching the race this weekend with much sadness. Many late nights and early mornings over the last 12 years following the highs and lows of Marks f1 career. A sportsman whose character I really admire.

I’ll certainly be watching next year with much interest, but I feel f1 will lose something with marks departure.

15

It’s sad, but it’s the right time.

Up steps Ricciardo

16

Farewell to F1’s last true character.

Great article JA!

I’ve been immensely proud watching Mark progress through F1 the tough way and I think he can look back and be nothing but proud of his career. Was gutted in 2010, but that’s life. I hope he gets the opportunity to enjoy his final years of driving with Porsche.

They just don’t churn out drivers who are like Mark anymore.

17

I think Kimi Raikonnen certainly qualifies as a “character”, as does Mark. Paul DiResta, e.g., not so much.

18

Thanks James, a nice article. It would be a pity if he was remembered as a “number two”. I think he was better than that.

I will always remember James Hunt commentating and saying about Berger something along the lines of “He is the perfect partner for Senna. He is a genuine number 1, so he pushes him. But he’s not a top flight number 1 like a Mansell or Prost, so he won’t cause friction.” It was an excellent comment on Berger and perhaps the same applies to Webber and Vettle (but with some friction).

I’d be interested to know where you’d rank him among drivers without a World championship, but at least as many wins as him, Moss, Coultard, Reutemann, Barrachello, Massa, Peterson, Berger.

Thank you and I enjoy your pod casts.

Adrian Nolan

19

Mark Webber is my least favorite driver..

Over many years his “none shall pass” mentality, where he would crash in to anyone who tried to overtake him, was ridiculous. Unfortunately it was usually the other car that came off worst.

Thank goodness he can’t start.

Completely out classed and out performed by Vetel.

Goodbye and good riddance,

20

Of all the drivers on the grid, Mark Webber is the one I like the most. Of course, I don’t know the guy, but he comes across as a friendly Aussie who you’d want to come to your Sunday arvo BBQ.

21

Mark! Best of luck, we will be, I wil be cheering you on one last time. Go for it, bring it home in number 1 one final time, 10 is an awesome number!

Your honesty, colour and unquie Aussiie flair will be sorely missed in F1. Congrats on a fantastic care you have certainly done Australia proud.

All the best with Porsche in 2014.

22

Thanks James. I really enjoyed this article and your summation of the one and only Mark Webber. You have brought us as fans great insight into F1 and long may this continue. It says a lot of Vettel that in spite of the personal issues between the two drivers he is still able to credit Mark for his role in his own success.

23

And he’s gorgeous. Will be gutted this Sunday. Have to find a new favourite.

24

May I suggest Ricciardo? 🙂

26

James – Whilst both drivers have speed under the right circumstances, I believe the Malaysian incident was a calculated effort by Vettel to establish a psychological advantage over Webber early in the season so as to get the team’s backing once leading the championship.

Vettel detractors claim that he is only winning because he has been in the best car. Yet he has beaten Webber by a significant margin this year. Whilst I appreciate the car might not have suited Webber, great drivers can work around this (eg as reported about Alonso and also Schumacher in his prime).

My theory is that the current RB car has a lot more speed than they’re showing. By sandbagging the car, they prevent a change in the tyre rules back to how it was (ie a disadvantage to RB). Therefore, could it be that Webber’s true pace this year has been a lot worse than is reported? After all, we are seeing one car faaaaar out in front and the second (Webber’s) being routinely beaten by Renault and Mercedes which are arguably worse cars. If we assume the two RB cars are equal (perhaps debatable), then the difference has to be Webber?

27

I’ll be very sad to see Mark go. Great racer and better character. I agree he is honest and straight talking not least because those in the know with F1 say so. Those people like DC, EJ and James Allen know more about the workings and politics that go on behind the scenes in F1 and are therefore much better judges of who is honest. Although I don’t agree there’s no one else that will speak ther mind…we still have Kimi…it wil just be said in less words and minus the emotion. #i was doing a s&&t

Good luck Mark, it’s been a pleasure!

28

So who is the Mark Webber guy anyway?

Well a couple of years ago my kids contacted “all” of the F1 drivers asking for a signed photo for their Dad as they wanted to chear him up after aclong and very painful divorce.

Yes I received a photo from most of the F1 grid’s PR departments along with the appropriate laser printed signature. But guess what,

? one letter was different, yes it had the requested signed photo but this time it wasn’t just a laser signature it simply read “Sorry to hear about your troubles Mate, keep your chin up, you’ve very luck to have such great kids, Best regards Mark”.

Says it all about Mark Webber and a hell of a lot about the other drivers.

Thanks Mark, your a Gentleman in my book, thekids and I will miss your presence in Formula 1.

Mike, Sam, Jess and Natasha

29

Absolutely fantastic, thanks for sharing.

30

Wow thats brilliant.

Will be sad when he steps out of the car and has one last glancing look at his car.

31

Brilliant story, and sums up the type of bloke Webbo is. F1 needs people like this and sadly has very few of them. Hope this bought some better luck your way, too.

32

That is awesome.

Rate that more than any of his wins.

33

I’m a bit of an emotional so and so, and that brought a little lump to my throat.

Nice kids fella. Must be proud.

34

Great comment!

35

I remember Melbourne 2002 like it was yesterday. It all started with a bang with that 5th place in the Minardi.

I feel I should repeat something Ted Kravitz said about how people feel about Mark Webber; “Most of the drivers are boys but Mark Webber was an adult” Enough said.

36

Thanks for the memories Mark.

Not really into Le Mans but ill keep my eye on you.

Its time for Daniel to step up now.

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