11 Highs and Lows in Mark Webber’s Fantastic Racing Career
A few of the many things we love about @AussieGrit.
1. His first F1 race was a talent show
Mark Webber started his F1 career off right—at his home track. In his very first race, the 2002 Australian Grand Prix, Webber hauled the perennial backmarker Minardi car from 18th on the grid to a stellar 5th place finish. He may have been helped by 12 retirements and two disqualifications, but it was still the team’s first points since 1999 and a great home race showing for Webber and Aussie team boss Paul Stoddart.
2. He once puked in his helmet
Webber had many clashes with Sebastian Vettel while they were teammates at Red Bull Racing, but even before then they couldn't get out of each others' way. At the 2007 Japanese Grand Prix, Vettel, driving for Toro Rosso, crashed into the second-place Webber under the safety car, ending both of their races. Adding insult to injury, Webber had food poisoning and actually vomited inside his helmet early in the race. Ew.
3. He backflipped into a pool after winning in Monaco
Mark Webber had two standout victories in the 2010 Formula 1 season, at Monaco and Silverstone. In Monaco, Webber dominated. He started from pole and led every lap on the way to a 1-2 Red Bull finish. He celebrated by backflipping into the Red Bull barge's pool—because of course Red Bull has a pool on the roof a barge. At Silverstone, the victory was harder fought. A controversy began earlier in the weekend when teammate Vettel’s fancy new wing broke and Red Bull opted to take the fancy new one off of Webber’s car to replace it, leaving Webber with the older—and presumably inferior—wing. While Vettel took the pole, Webber got the jump on the start, passing Vettel despite the German’s best efforts to force him off the track. Webber stayed ahead the rest of the day. Crossing the finish line, the cheeky Aussie said the radio, “Not bad for a number two driver, eh?”
4. The Vitaly Petrov thing
At the end of the 2010 season, Webber went into the season finale in Abu Dhabi trailing only Fernando Alonso by eight points and leading teammate Vettel by seven. Many thought Webber was the man to beat for the championship, and indeed, so did Ferrari. Ferrari chose to "mark" Webber for their strategy calls during the race and mirrored his movements instead of the trailing Vettel. Webber and Alonso both ended up stuck behind the Renault of Russian driver Vitaly Petrov for the remainder of the race. It was a crushing blow for both drivers and allowed Vettel to take both the race victory and his first championship.
5. Brazil hates Mark Webber
The Interlagos circuit in Sao Paolo has not been kind to Webber—even after he left F1 for the World Endurance Championship. His first season in the series, 2014, Webber crashed hard in the final corner of the circuit. Webber’s Porsche 919 LMP1 car made contact with a GT Ferrari driven by Matteo Cressoni with less than half an hour left in the six-hour enduro. As he was being carted away in an ambulance, Webber gave the camera a thumbs up. Because Aussie Grit
6. That pass on Alonso
Spa-Francorchamps is, of course, home to one of the most famous corners in racing, Eau Rouge. At the Belgian Grand Prix in 2011, Mark Webber not only managed to pass a car through Eau Rouge—a feat few attempt—but passed none other than two-time champion Fernando Alonso. Even the guys on the pit wall were shaking their heads in disbelief.
7. "Multi 21, Seb."
Controversy overshadowed yet another Red Bull 1-2 finish in the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix. Vettel took victory over Webber after blatantly ignoring the order “Multi 21,” which indicated that team boss Christian Horner wanted a Webber-Vettel result. The tricky pass and close racing between the two risked both cars and the points finish for the team. An angry Webber confronted Vettel, on camera, before the podium ceremony and called him out during the press conference.
8. Flying high in Valencia
In addition to his memorable 2010 victories, Webber also has the most memorable crash of that season. At the European Grand Prix in Valencia, his RB10 clipped Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen while travelling at an astonishing 190mph. Webber’s car flew into the air, flipped end over end and striking a hanging advertisement, before landing upside down and on the nose of the car. The car magically rolled back onto four wheels before spearing the tire wall at the end of the run off. Both remarkably and, somehow, characteristically, Webber emerged unscathed.
9. Champion at last
After a long F1 career and an up-and-down return year in WEC, Webber and co-drivers Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard finally made it click in 2015, winning half of the season’s races and taking a podium in a further two en route to the series championship.
10. Disappointment at Le Mans
Mark Webber’s return to sports cars was the story of the season in 2014. The Aussie had the chance to add to his illustrious career, particularly at Le Mans. He had been to Le Mans twice before, but had never gotten to race at the circuit. In 1998 his car retired before his shot, and in 1999, after a duo of dramatic accidents [see below] the car was withdrawn before the race began. The 2014 race was Webber’s shot at redemption. But it was not to be. After taking the lead at hour 20, Timo Bernhard handed the car over to Webber, from the lead, with just two hours left in the race. Not long into Webber’s stint, the car suddenly slowed and the once leading Porsche was retired from the race.
11. Going upside-down. Again.
During his second run to Le Mans, in 1999, Webber survived not one but two astounding crashes. While driving the Mercedes-CLR LMGTP car during Thursday night qualifying, the front of the car lifted up, back flipping the car end over end. When Webber first spoke to the team, they didn’t believe the car lifted up on his own, and he had no video or photos to prove it. Webber got back in the repaired car during warm up on Saturday morning only to find himself flipping end over end AGAIN, in the exact same manner, down the Mulsanne straight. This time, there was photographic proof and the car with withdrawn from the race. Webber emerged largely unscathed.