Mark Webber: A Talent Too Good To Be True
Everyone is bound to forget a disgraced champion, but forgetting a good driver in a disgraced team is criminal
As Redbull is preparing for the 2021 and 2022 season with an ambitious project of matching up to Mercedes, there's one driver who's contributed to that fighting spirit. The Aussie, who now is a Sky Sports Pundit for the Formula 1 grid, Mark Webber as a driver, was highly underrated. He's behind the success of Williams, Jaguar, Minardi even during their decline and Redbull's championship hopes were partly a contribution to Webber's talent. While his career with Redbull was not short of controversy, he has raked up several podiums and a total of 9 wins over a career spanning a decade. While his last win came in Brazil in 2012, he's a driver of calibre and though much of his life was spent on cars which either lacked pace or development, his career at Redbull will be remembered for one thing, building a champion and a championship-winning race car.
Mark Webber exiting his final Formula 1 season with a podium and the Australian Flag, as he made way for Daniel Ricciardo.
Earlier this week, in its video comparing Sainz and Perez's roles, The Race mentioned they would be part of a scheme of drivers who are focused on building the team inside out and secure the constructors' title. The Aussie joined Redbull for the same reason in 2007, and while he didn't manage to get a car that could get him to win the championship, Mark Webber managed to build a fully functional team, that was ready to take up anything against the odds. Mark Webber's Formula 1 career dated back to 2000, when he managed to secure a seat with Arrows as their test driver. While not the best team to start your career with (Pascal Wehrlein's career remembrance day!), the man was up-close to the raging adrenaline rushing cars of those times. It also happens to be the year, when a German named Michael Schumacher took his first title. In 2001, Webber finished 2nd in the Formula 3000 category and was the test driver for the 1995 Constructors Champions Bennetton.
A dimpled young Mark Webber in the Benetton colors. Though he was only a test-driver, he understands the theory of support mechanism.
His big break was in 2002 with Minardi, where he impressed everyone by nursing a broken car to finish 5th. While his entire stint at Minardi only ended him gaining 19 points and a 16th place finish, he was considered a raw talent among his paddock peers. Bernie Eccelstone, the former F1 supremo, called him a 'Champion'. (Never talk to Bernie. He jinxes it!). He moved on to Jaguar, where he finished 10th (2003) and 14th (2004). 2005 and 2006 were probably his worst years as Williams was spiralling out of control and he finished 10th the first year and 14th in the second. Around the same time, Redbull which had entered in 2006 as a constructor was trying to get its act together when they decided going with the Aussie was the only choice, as the promising 'Academy' drivers decided to punk themselves on the wall. Redbull wanted championships, and it required someone who can help them do that.
Mark Webber in a Minardi
Mark Webber was always capable of turning the odds that surrounded him. He might have gotten rowdy at times, but he's managed to achieve success with every team he has been with.
A declining Williams acquired services of Mark Webber, who showed potential of growing up fast. Pic Credits: Motorsport.com
While Mark Webber wasn't exactly a promising talent for Redbull, given he was in poorly developed cars and unfulfilled promises were a thing with mid-field teams, Redbull took the gamble. While the first year wasn't necessarily the best, he showed some consistent pace while he was with the team. He finished in the TOP 5 in the driver's championship on four occasions and played the best wingman one can ever have.
Mark Webber like his former team mate David Coulthard, played the support role perfectly!
Mark Webber played the support act perfectly where he built a car that was not just fast but drivable. While he's a controversial character (an opinion raised by many journalists), he wasn't a mere driver. Mark was a champion maker, and often history has been cruel to the people who are champion makers. As Sergio Perez joins the grid for the 2021 season, the big challenge is, whether he can be Mark Webber to his Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen? or will he go down the way of Daniil, Piere and Albon?
While Vettel weebs might say Mark Webber wasn't great, one cannot forget that a second driver is an important aspect of either being a champion or making one!
While there will be many questions in people's minds about Perez and his performance, I can say one thing for sure about Webber - 'NOT BAD FOR A SECOND DRIVER.'
The season's about to start, so there will be posts on my Instagram handle @dankshankaroffical. Follow me on Drivetribe and Instagram as I'll be posting more stuff like these!!!