Webber leaves Formula 1 respected and proud after amazing journey

End of the Formula 1 road for Mark Webber

End of the Formula 1 road for Mark Webber

Mark Webber drove out of Formula 1 with the wind in his hair, a smile on his face and Red Bull overalls soaked in champagne after one final podium celebration at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The Australian finished runner-up, equalling his best result of a year dominated by race winner and quadruple World Champion team mate Sebastian Vettel, at Interlagos in his 215th and last grand prix.

The voice of Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, himself only three years older than his 37-year-old driver, came over the radio as Webber crossed the line for his final competitive lap.

“One more lap Mark, enjoy it,” he said, and the chisel-jawed veteran made sure he savoured every moment – for once concentrating on driving slowly rather than qucikly.

After taking the chequered flag, Webber removed his helmet halfway through his slowing down lap to show his face to the crowd and marshals and allow himself to hear the applause and feel the breeze.

Mark Webber drives his final lap of his F1 career

Mark Webber drives his final lap of his F1 career

“In this sport it’s not always [that] you have the personal touch,” he said afterwards. “We have helmets on all the time so they don’t always see a driver in a Formula 1 car without a helmet.

“It was nice to get it off, see the marshals, see the fans, it was a really nice thing for me just to experience. I heard a lot of noises I don’t normally hear with the helmet on.”

Webber, famously straight-talking ever since his astonishing debut in 2002 when he finished fifth for tiny Minardi in his home race, has always been one for the direct, no-nonsense approach both inside and outside the sport and Sunday was no exception.

The winner of nine grands prix in 12 seasons, including two Monaco Grand Prix victories but none this year, said the hardest part of the day had been just steeling himself to get into the car at the start.

Welcomed to the garage before the race to the sounds of ‘Waltzing Matilda’, with the Australian flag hung over his car and ‘Thank You Mark’ written on his pit board, the last farewell was always going to be emotional even if Webber was a long way from reaching for the tissues.

Mark Webber's final F1 race ended with a podium finish

Mark Webber’s final F1 race ended with a podium finish

“I was quite overcome with some emotion, to be honest,” he said. “Just that moment of helmets on, stepping in the car…I did it but it was actually the strongest emotion I’ve probably had all day.”

On the podium he joined Vettel, who graciously that insisted his team mate be interviewed first, and Ferrari‘s Fernando Alonso, one of his best friends in the paddock.

“To finish on the podium with those two guys, they have been the best of this generation and I’ve raced them a lot…meant a lot to me in showing [that] I could still drive well at the end of my career,” said Webber.

“I’m over the worst of it today in terms of the roller-coaster of emotions, I’m happy to leave here tonight. And yeah, that’s it.”

Before the race the Australian left no doubt that he was more than ready for his next challenge racing Le Mans sportscars with Porsche and was leaving at the right time.

Mark Webber finished fifth in his F1 debut at the 2002 Australian GP - here he celebrates with Minardi boss Paul Stoddard

Mark Webber finished fifth in his F1 debut at the 2002 Australian GP – here he celebrates with Minardi boss Paul Stoddard

The man who might have won the Championship in 2010, and who leaves with 42 podium positions and 13 poles, recognised that what he might have lacked in outright speed he had made up for with sheer hard work and determination.

“Maybe I did not have the most absolute natural flair and talent but I knew that if I grafted and worked hard I’d soon get awesome results,” he said in a Red Bull review of his career.

“I also smashed a lot of guys who had more talent than me because they didn’t work as hard as me,” added the former Williams and Jaguar racer.

“I learned that about myself. How important it was to graft and just get my head down. I’ve been doing that for most of my career.

“The results I’ve had in F1 have been great but it’s about the journey as well and I’ve had an amazing journey.” (Reuters)

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  • Mathilda

    Well done Mark

  • Spartacus

    Leaving F1 at the top of his game. One of the best drivers ever to have been in F1.

  • MightyK

    I’ve said it many times, but the day has arrived…….Webb you are loved and will be missed.

  • Texas Roadhouse

    Honesty, and Integrity – those are the most important traits he has – to leave as he has done just shows that.

    Roll on WEC 2014 – will enjoy those races all the more for his participation.

    But thanks for all the good memories from the F1 years.

  • Well

    A liar, backstabber, hypocrite that was defended by the British media and fans. Good riddance.

  • fools

    Salute. Good Luck with Leman Porsche

    :)

  • dcloudy777

    Goodbye and good luck Mark.

    I’m going to watch Le Mans sportscars next year just to keep up with Webber and the new Porsche.

  • Snowman

    @Well

    I guess that makes you German, then?

  • Ukwhite

    All is well that ends well. None of RBs drivers were saints, let alone other top teams. With a rough personality, you cannot expect Webber to wear gloves when fighting. I do believe he missed though an opportunity for a better relation with his team mate, but that is past now, who cares, in the end he can be proud of his career.

    In a different team he could have done better, who knows, Ferrari for example, a friend in need for his friend indeed. War? For sure, no dinner in Abu Dhabi…

  • Wll

    Snowman, showing your prejudice then?

    I am British myself and it is so obvious, the hate against German drivers and your comment proved my point. Cheers.

    Webber played guys like you like a flute and you bought his BS, thanks to his buddies in the British media always portraying him as the hero. Only the gullible, lesser intelligent and Vettel-haters fell for it.

    Just an average driver that should have been sacked before the 2009 Brazilian GP when he said he would rather help Button win the title than his teammate Vettel. I mean, wtf?

  • Boycotthehaters

    Webber was certainly loved and respected by the British press. More so than either Button or Hamilton, in fact. What was that all about? I don’t know but it’s one reason I’m not sorry Webbo is leaving, watching the press fawn over him was tedious.

  • Snowman

    @Well

    Next time, if you could spell your own name correctly I may take you more seriously.

  • Bert

    @ Snowman
    get a life mate. WW2 is over since 1945 PS.Germany came second.

  • Bent Spark Plug…

    Good on you Mark.. a real star of F1 and I am sorry you didn’t get that chance to win a F1 World Championship – but non the less you are deserving of it and a VERY capable driver in my opinion.

    Bring on 2014 and I look forward to great things with Porsche mate.

    Thanks for the wonderful memories – and the Canberra Milk add- PRICELESS !

  • PB

    Mark you have been a great ambassador to F1 for many years. You are moving on to another category and I like many will take pleasure in following your next career path. Good on you mate.

    ps: I do not follow the british press just as @well.

  • Tamburello_1994

    Not one of my favorites over the years, but over this last season I did warm to him a bit.

    Not overtly rolling over for Sebastian deserves some respect.

    Good luck at Porsche.

  • the fan

    never a fan of webber but this year he has earned my respect with his honesty, being straight forward with his thoughts, how he feels, braveness and most of all, his dedication even when the chips are down. best of luck to him. someone is happy at red bull more than ever.

  • Ukwhite

    Doubt somebody is happy at RB, if that was the case Mark would have been let go earlier. Vettel owes to Mark many things, and Mark openly talked about his high esteem for Seb. Mark and Seb is one of the best pairing in F1 history and anybody at RB knows and appreciates it,

  • Ukwhite

    Mark after last weekend in Brazil… He is a different man.

    “It’s been a real pleasure for me to finish today’s race like this – to finish on the podium with arguably the two best guys of the generation we’re in at the moment,” he said.
    “I hold them in very high esteem. I’m happy with the finish and I’m happy to go and do something different now.”

  • the fan

    ukwhite… actually i was referring to marko. agree that he has high praises for vettel. as a matter of fact he never said anything bad about vettel’s skill except of course from the multi 21 issue w/c is vettel’s wrong doing. its red bull’s policy of favoring vettel that he’s complaining. and what about marko? was there any praise or good words that he’s said about webber? cant think of any. he’s as idiot as anyone can get.