It’s our turn now to pay respects to Mark Webber’s 12-year Formula 1 career. We’re doing so by offering up a pictorial reminder of Mark’s nine grand prix wins. On the one had his maiden victory at the 2009 German Grand Prix seems like it happened only yesterday. Yet, so much has happened since that great day.
Finally, after years of hard toil, Mark had a winning car under him, but did he have a winning team behind him? The first inkling that some in Red Bull considered him an inconvenience, as Mark once described himself, came in the aftermath of his crash with Sebastian Vettel at the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix. The front wing swap controversy followed soon after at Silverstone, leading to Mark’s “Not bad for a number two driver” comment following what must rank as one of his most satisfying wins.
The most decisive point in Mark’s F1 career came during a rainy 2010 Korean Grand Prix, when he crashed out in pursuit of Sebastian Vettel. Mark was leading the world championship at the time and solid result at Yeongam would have helped maintain his charge towards the title.
Sadly for Mark, on the biggest stage, he made a vital mistake and, despite being in the hunt right to the final race, a failure to capture the championship looked inevitable. Having to watch Vettel steal the title during an excruciating Abu Dhabi Grand Prix would have only rubbed salt into Webber’s festering wounds.
The Vettel juggernaut continued in 2011 and a disappointing season was salvaged to a degree with a win at Brazil, before reaching high points in 2012 with repeat victories at Monaco and Britain. More than 500 days have passed since Mark’s last win, which just highlights the gap between he and Sebastian Vettel, who has won 17 grands prix in that time.
One final blow up between Mark and Sebastian occurred earlier this year during the Malaysian Grand Prix, when Vettel defied team orders and overtook Webber on the way to victory. Perhaps that was the final straw Mark needed before signing a long-term deal to go endurance racing with Porsche.
For many fans Mark’s career is one that lies in the “what could have been” category. Mark himself says he has no regrets and is not too proud to admit his shortcomings. His own self-reflection is one of the aspects that makes him so universally liked in F1. Ironically, and tellingly, Mark’s greatest detractor in the sport has come from within his own garage in the form of Helmut Marko.
For now, though, let’s put all those thoughts behind us and revisit the nine perfect Monday mornings Mark delivered to Australian F1 fans. Thanks Mark! We’re looking forward to many more happy Mondays following your move to Porsche.
[Pics: Red Bull/Getty Images]