“To lead and not be the chaser was a first for me”
Pole position and the race victory at the weekend at the Nurburgring... It couldn’t have been a much better weekend for Australian veteran Mark Webber.
“We’ve made the most out of the last couple of races, in which
we couldn’t have done better,” Webber said in reference to the one two finish at Silverstone and Nurburgring. “I’d had two second places, so I knew the momentum was with me and now I’ve got the win. It’s just great to finally get the victory.”
Webber broke into Formula One back in 2002 and made an immediate impact on his debut as he took the chequered flag in fifth position. Driving a Minardi Asiatech, that result was perceived as a victory for the little Italian team that later morphed into Toro Rosso.
A move to Jaguar followed in 2003 where Webber was a regular points finisher but the team which would later to morph into Red Bull following the exit of Ford from the sport. However, it was largely a frustrating period for Webber before he moved on to BMW Williams in 2005. Webber remained with the Grove-based team for two years but despite his first podium in Monaco 2005, it was another frustrating campaign.
A move to Red Bull Renault followed in 2007 where the Australian secured 10 and 21 points respectively in his first two years alongside David Coulthard. This year however he finally has a car capable of running at the front.
“I’ve done a lot of races and for a huge majority of them, I didn’t have a chance of winning because the car wasn’t up to it and also, they featured a guy called Michael Schumacher
and he tended to do a bit of damage himself,” Webber explained. “In that era, you needed to be in a Ferrari or a McLaren.
“Now, in this new era of F1, there are other teams in the mix and I am very happy that the situation with Red Bull Racing means we are in a position to challenge for podiums and wins at every Grand Prix, as long as we get things right.”
Webber has already scored 45.5 points so far this year, more than the last three seasons combined and there are still eight races remaining. His ten points secured on Sunday was relatively straightforward once the drive through penalty had been dealt with.
“I was pretty relaxed going into the race,” he explained. “I was keen for it to be dry, because that would mean fewer decisions to be made. I felt we probably had the Brawns covered and that my real opposition was going to be Sebastian maybe at some point in the race. Then the race exploded pretty quickly with drivers like Heikki (Kovalainen) in the mix and my drive through penalty. But after around lap 40, I knew I just had to stay on it and bring the car home.
“I’ve now crossed the uncharted waters of pole position and a victory, so that can only help,” he continued. “It can’t be a hindrance, that’s for sure. To lead and not be the chaser was a first for me. I hope that the momentum can continue, even if there is no doubt there will be some tough races in the future. But getting this first win means that when it’s close, the races might seem more straightforward for me.”
Webber arrived back in the UK late on Sunday evening and after receiving many phone calls of congratulations, he grabbed some sleep before heading to the Red Bull debrief.
“As an intro for me, they played the recording of my car-to-pit radio as I crossed the line,” Webber explained. “I didn’t realise how long I was shouting for! The response was incredible. There are still a lot of people at the factory whom I worked with back in my Jaguar days there and we have been through a lot together. There are also a lot of new people, who haven’t been in Formula One for that long and they are at the start of an incredible journey.”
Now third in the championship just 1.5 points behind team-mate Vettel, Webber and Red Bull are now in the running for both the constructors’ championship and the drivers’ championship. Webber expects the races to ‘see-saw either way’ until he or Vettel make an error.
While the championship is a consideration, Webber concedes that Jenson Button
is still firm favourite to take the ultimate prize, despite the recent domination of the Red Bull team.
“For the team, it’s an incredible position to have both its drivers on virtually equal points, which bodes very well for the constructors’ championship. Jenson is our big hurdle in the drivers’, as he is two Grand Prix in the lead in terms of points,” he concluded.
Webber’s victory was the first for an Australian driver since Alan Jones took the chequered flag in Las Vegas back in 1981.
"It's been way too long for an Australian and absolutely overdue for Mark," Jones told Australian The Age newspaper. "He's proved that he can drive quickly. He's proven that he can qualify really well.
"He's led Grand Prix on a number of occasions and through no fault of his of own he's failed to come through. He's always dug his heels in and very much deserves this result..."