Webber: Bahrain is my 200th appearance, jeez it goes quick

Formula 1’s most controversial race, the Bahrain Grand Prix, might just give Mark Webber something to celebrate on Sunday – his double century of Formula 1 race starts.

Red Bull‘s Australian has had a pretty thin time of it recently but Sunday’s race, in a tiny Gulf kingdom, will be the 200th grand prix of his career.

The 36-year-old has been outspoken about Bahrain in the past and would doubtless feel happier hitting the milestone somewhere else. But any strong result will be a bonus after last weekend in China and the previous ‘team orders’ storm in Malaysia.

“Yes folks really looking forward to the next GP, it’s my 200th appearance,” he said on Twitter this week. “Jeez it goes quick, pumped for the rest of the year.”

Mark Webber during a publicity shoot ahead of his F1 debut at the 2002 Australian GP

Mark Webber during a publicity shoot ahead of his F1 debut at the 2002 Australian GP

Webber made his F1 race debut with Minardi at the 2002 Australian GP, and since then has scored nine wins, 35 podiums, 11 pole positions and 14 fastest laps – he has also driven for Jaguar and Williams before joining Red Bull in 2007.

Webber has yet to stand on the podium in Bahrain but triple champion team mate Sebastian Vettel, the German who snatched victory from him in Malaysia by ignoring an order not to overtake, was the winner last year.

In China, Webber ran out of fuel in qualifying and lost a wheel in the race after having to start from the pitlane and then being involved in a collision.
Vettel leads the standings with 52 points to 49 for Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen and 43 for Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso. Webber has just 26 after four races.

Formula One’s travelling circus began arriving from China on Monday, greeted by friendly smiles at the airport and newspaper reports an escalation in protests against the sport.

Mark Webber celebrtaes with the Minardi crew after finishing fifth in his debut grand prix in Melbourne back in 2002

Mark Webber celebrates with the Minardi crew after finishing fifth in his debut grand prix in Melbourne back in 2002

There have again been calls by campaigners at home and abroad for the race to be cancelled, as it was in 2011, but commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone has made clear that is not going to happen.

Webber was one of the few drivers to speak out last year, when there was far more noise made about the decision to proceed with the grand prix.

“Ultimately we are all human. We have morals. We have ways we see things,” he said at the time.

Back on track, Alonso won in China, his team’s first success of the season, and the Spaniard has the best record of any driver in Bahrain after three previous wins including his first for Ferrari.

The third different driver in three races to win this year, Alonso is the bookmakers’ favourite to spray the rosewater – there being no champagne on the Bahrain podium – after a back-to-back victory.

Mark Webber's 199th grand prix in China ended with a scooter ride back to the pits

Mark Webber’s 199th grand prix in China ended with a scooter ride back to the pits

“I expect a tough race again,” he said.

“In Bahrain I think we will see different conditions and who knows how competitive anyone can be. But definitely … from the races that we finished this year the car seems to be able to be on the podium, so we hope to be on the podium again.”

So too does Lewis Hamilton after taking two third places in three races for Mercedes since the 2008 world champion left McLaren.

“We’re not quite there yet, but we’re not far away,” he said. “I came into the year with everyone saying it was the worst decision I could possibly ever make in my life. And we’re getting these results.

Mark Webber last won at the 2012 British Grand Prix

Mark Webber last won at the 2012 British Grand Prix

“We’re doing the job. We’ve got a lot of work to do to improve reliability and pick up the pace but we’re on it … Bahrain hopefully will be a better weekend for us.”

Raikkonen is chasing his 21st successive points finish, which would leave him just three short of Michael Schumacher’s all-time record.

The 2007 champion had his first podium with Lotus in Bahrain last year, when he finished second, and hopes to go one better.

“I like it. I’ve had some nice races there and picked up some good points although I’ve never won,” he said. “Wherever you look around the track you can just see sand in the distance and you notice it in the paddock too.

“It’s a circuit where I’ve never won before, so maybe this year I’ll change that.”

  • Alonso_is_slow

    This girl is much prettier than Alonso’s imported girlfriend.

  • Yeah Right

    Waste of a competitive seat and he is one of the filthiest drivers when defending and has one of the most nasty characters in F1, but most people fell for his PR stunts to think the opposite.

  • Wardski

    @Yeah Right, sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder, don’t rush to judge someone you have never met or have ever known personally.

  • Flash Flaherity of the Long Ski

    Mark’s 200th.. wow. I’d have bet he’d accomplished more for himself by now, since he’s never been much of a wing man.

  • Yeah Right

    Wardski, just watch the last 4 seasons and the shit he pulled. If you can’t see he is a dirty driver and a backstabber on and off track, you are blind. Or you are a British guy, lol, whom always seem to only see these things when it is a German driver doing it, never an English speaking driver ;)

  • Aberracus

    Come on, you Vettel fans now hate poor guy Webber. Vettel is the most hated man on the grid, his only fault is fighting your precious German kid.

    Red Bull is in any case the culprit by letting from the start his 2 drivers to fight each other, so now they hate each other. Vettel will never look up for a team, he is the asphalt god and nobody deserves to be his equal.

    Vettel is just an spoiled brat

  • Steve

    It’s easy to forget now, but prior to Seb’s arrival at RB Webber was widely considered one of the fastest drivers on the grid. He had demolished all of his previous teammates in qualifying.

    A few years later and he’s widely despised. After all, if Vettel is just an average driver in a fantastic car – as many people want to believe – then Mark must be bloody hopeless.

  • Joe Kinnear

    @ Abberacus Sebs is spoiled? At least he beats the crap out of Mark (in qulaifying, race) almost EVERY TIME. You Sebs haters just can’t admit Sebs’ one of the best.

  • www.anthonybarton1.com

    I believe that Webber has a bad deal with Red Bull VETTEL needs to realize there are team orders and you listen to the ones who are paying you.