musings and news on the world of F1
It’s easy to think that F1 has become a young man’s game with so many rookies now involved in the sport. But Mark Webber continues to show that there’s still a huge role to play by older more experienced guys like him. Now beginning his 11th season at the age of 36, Webber’s still one of the top drivers on the grid.
Red Bull have been the top team the past three seasons, winning 3 consecutive world constructors’ championships. Considering this, it’s quite surprising that Mark’s only won 9 races and achieved 24 podium finishes during this time. In comparison, teammate Vettel has won 21 races and achieved 37 podium finishes, and of course won 3 consecutive world drivers’ titles. There’s no doubt Vettel is Red Bull’s wonderkid, but despite any favourability towards him the team are fair and Webber’s had the same car and opportunities. The difference in their successes has has led some to say that he’s just with the team as a second driver to support Seb’s championship campaigns, but Mark’s more than that.
In 2010 at the final race of the season Webber was one of four drivers who could still win that year’s world championship. The difference between him and the eventual winner, his teammate Vettel, ended up being just 14 points over the 19 races. A respectable result, but a disappointing end to the season that was, so far, Mark’s best shot at becoming world champion.
The 2011 season was dismal for any driver that wasn’t Vettel, as from 19 races he achieved 11 wins and 17 podium finishes, winning the championship by a huge 122 point margin. Webber achieved top-5 results throughout the season and finished third in the drivers’ standings, a good result in what quickly became a battle for the runners-up positions.
Last season the battle for the championship once again went down to the final race of the season, and again involved teammate Vettel, whilst his championship hopes were ended early after a string of mediocre results.
Webber’s time at Red Bull has undoubtedly be overshadowed by the great success of his teammate. He has been able to achieve great results, albeit not as consistently as Seb and others at the top teams. It’s hard to understand why this has been the case, perhaps a lack of ruthlessness, but he’s also had his share of bad luck. Mark’s clearly talented enough to become world champion, and few would say he wouldn’t deserve that achievement. With a bit of good luck this season could finally be Mark’s time to be #1.
With all his success, now at 36 years old there’s continued speculation about Webber’s future. Mark seems well aware he’s on the final stretch of his career, and the importance of not sticking around beyond the right time to retire. There was once talk of a swansong at Ferrari alongside his good friend Alonso, but that now seems a slim possibility, and the likelihood is he’ll stay at Red Bull for another year or two. Whenever Mark does decide to retire, he’s another great character of the F1 world who will be missed by us all.