“Today is about Porsche and Mark Webber”

Outspoken. Tough. Emotional. Number Two Driver.

It’s not hard to imagine who’s being described here. For some, Mark Webber is the boy from Down Under done good with a feel good outback to on-track story. For others Mark Webber is the nearly man, moaning and whingeing his way slowly to the front of the grid. Whichever side of the fence you sit doesn’t matter, now he’s retiring from Formula One he’s going to leave a unique space on the grid that will prove hard to fill.

A bit more notice would have been nice, mate

A bit more notice would have been nice, mate

The news today that for Webber the current 2013 season will be his last in Formula One hasn’t been met with huge levels of surprise, naturally his fans are upset at the prospect of a Webber-less 2014, but for the most it was widely anticipated. The rumours about Porsche have circulated for some time but peaked after the debacle in Malaysia and the now infamous Multi 21 incident, at the time they were dismissed by both camps, and Webber was emphatic that the ball was in his court. Now it turns out he had placed his ball in a new court altogether, the court of the World Endurance Championship. More interestingly,  it was ‘some time ago’ to quote the man himself.

Something echoed by Dietrich Mateschitz too, Webber had kept the main Red Bull man in the loop over the last six months and told him a week ago that he was defecting to Porsche, which make the contract offer from Mateschitz a curious part of the puzzle. Who wasn’t told, as it transpires, was Christian and the guys at the factory which has led the team principal to comment, “The guys at the factory are a bit more disappointed that they read it on the internet rather than heard something direct.”

Who's a happy boy then?

Who’s a happy boy then?

Understandable considering that Webber has been an integral part of their success since 2007, although on the other hand Horner could be bitter from only getting a phone call from the departing driver at 9am this morning, a mere hour before Webber tweeted a statement on his own website. Webber played the nature of the announcement down, stating that Today is about Porsche and Mark Webber, and even the casual onlooker would have realised that this driver has never been afraid of being his own man and a cheeky pre-race weekend bombshell wasn’t a surprise.

And it is precisely his straight shooter mentality that will be so sorely missed from the paddock and the track, journalists know that given a tough subject Webber could be relied upon to offer an intelligent and honest answer which is increasingly hard to come by in a PR and sponsor driven sport where wrong words and out of context answers can scupper relations in an instant. When other drivers offered pre-arranged and PR approved answers to the situation in Bahrain, Webber ignored the back office advice and started the conference, ‘So, Bahrain?’ His BBC article on Lance Armstrong’s post-doping scandal extols the purity of his sporting mentality. “Life is full of choices. Sure, none of us are perfect, but ultimately karma always triumphs.” (Webber Most Quotable)

Formula One is losing a driver of undeniable skill, with the natural talent and desire to drive with his foot to the floor that all drivers need. But he had made it clear he’s become unhappy with the direction that the sport was taking, with regards to the tyres most specifically, being forced to drive conservatively was never in the game plan. A return to sportscars was in fact and as the day has unfolded Webber let slip he knew at the beginning of the season where his future lay.

Seat of your pants stuff

Seat of your pants stuff

From a personal viewpoint being a Webber fan has never been easy, but it has been rewarding; from the fifth place with Minardi in his debut at home, to the first win right through to the breathtaking pass on Alonso at Spa and beyond. It would be easy to blame Vettel in this and their perceived vitriolic relationship, but it would diminish Webber as a sportsman to do that, he’s proven time and time again he’s a man of his own mind and apart from a few unexpected flights he’s also been in control of his own destiny. The only thing Vettel can be blamed for, if at all, is bad timing, as when Webber finally got his hands on a competitive car the Marko backed racer was right there too.

Now without a commitment to Red Bull Racing (although he will continue to be sponsored by the brand) Vettel must be wondering exactly how much help he will be getting to clinch his fourth consecutive title. His mind must be reeling back to Brazil 2012 as we speak.

Racer. Gentleman. Bloody good bloke.

2 Responses to ““Today is about Porsche and Mark Webber””
  1. celeste says:

    I understand that you are a Webber fan, but don´t you think that saying that Vettel is just a “Marko backed racer was right there too” is a desmissed of what both Webber and Vettel have made. You don´t win 29 races and get a record on pole positions just by having Marko´s support.

    • rookief1 says:

      Point made, and taken.

      Marko backed, perhaps championed would be a better term for him as he was a major player in bringing Vettel into the Red Bull family. But Vettel is a phenomenal talent, I’ve never said otherwise, just not in this piece.

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