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The Five Best Drives of Mark Webber

Webber on his way to his first win

Webber on his way to his first win

2012 British GP

Webber's Red Bull team had utterly dominated in 2011, but its 2012 season started off badly. Sebastian Vettel particularly looked off-colour in comparison with his 2011 form, and it is fair to say that up to the British GP, Webber was more or less able to match his double world champion teammate.

The qualifying for the British GP was wet, and it was championship leader Fernando Alonso who had the best of the conditions and took pole position. Webber was his closest challenger, Michael Schumacher qualified third, while Vettel was fourth.

Alonso and Webber chose different tyres at the beginning of the race. Alonso opted for the hards, while Webber for the softs. Alonso was able to pull away from Webber thanks to his more durable tyres, while the two of them left the rest of the field behind as Schumacher on third was unable to keep pace with them.

A stable gap between Alonso and Webber was maintained in the middle phase of the race when both of them were on the hard tyres. The only question remained: could Alonso hold off Webber in the final stint of the race when he would be on the softs.

We got the answer in the last 15 laps of the race. Webber closed upright onto the gearbox of Alonso, and after a hard battle, passed his rival to take the lead and romp off into the distance for an impressive victory.

2010 Hungarian GP

During the 2010 season, the Red Bull team was seemingly in a league of its own on tracks that required teams to run with high downforce. Red Bull looked miles quicker than anyone in the Spanish GP, in Monaco and Silverstone. Expectations were that we would see a similar picture in the Hungarian GP also.

Practice and qualifying went according to the script, as pole-sitter Vettel was over a second quicker than any non-Red Bull car. Webber was unable to match his teammate, but he still got an easy second place in qualifying.

Vettel got a great start on Sunday’s race, but Webber was passed by Alonso at the start. This allowed Vettel to romp away from Alonso, who was closely followed by Webber. Things looked set for a walk in the park for Vettel. An SC was deployed not much later, and most of the field used to ditch their soft tyres and get on the hards, which were durable enough to complete the rest of the race on it.

Webber opted to stay out on the other hand, as he judged he still had plenty of life in his tyres.

When the race was restarted Vettel was caught sleeping and he dropped a long way back from his teammate. This was contrary to the regulations and earned Vettel a drive through not much later. With Vettel dropping behind Alonso, the race for the win was between Alonso and Webber.

Webber was much faster than his rival, but he had to make an extra pit stop. He stayed out a long time on his used softs and entered the pits with 27 laps to go. His pit crew did a good job and allowed Webber to rejoin the race ahead of Alonso and Vettel.

Webber never looked back from this moment and walked away from Alonso to take an impressive win.

2006 Monaco GP

The Williams team had a decent start to the 2006 season, but after a couple of races, their season took a rapid turn for the worse. Their car was occasionally quick, but incredibly unreliable.

Nobody expected Williams to shine in Monaco, but Webber did not care about expectations. Both he and his teammate Rosberg easily got into the final phase of qualifying. Rosberg’s attempts in Q3 were foiled by yellows, but Webber got a very impressive third on the grid.

After Schumacher’s disqualification, Webber found himself second on the grid. He had a decent start and maintained second, but made a small mistake on lap 2, which allowed Raikkonen to get by on him.

Still, as the race progressed, Webber was able to maintain contact with the leading two and looked set to clinch his first podium of 2006 when a technical failure put an end to his brilliant drive.

It was absolute wretched luck for the Aussie, who deserved a podium for a superb performance.

2009 German GP

The early part of the 2009 season was dominated by Jenson Button and Brawn GP. Red Bull were their closest challengers, but Button generally had the measure of them in race conditions.

Things looked changed at the British GP when Red Bull was utterly dominant and looked like they found a second over Brawn.

Things followed the same script in the German GP also, when Webber took pole position in qualifying despite being a lot heavier than either of the Brawn cars and his teammate Vettel came close to getting ahead of the Brawns also despite a much heavier car.

The start was a disaster for Webber. He was slow off the line and hit Barrichello. Race direction deemed his manoeuvre as dangerous and penalised him with a drive-through. Worse than this was the fact that he was stuck behind Barrichello, who was holding him up. Webber had a few clean laps when Barrichello went to the pits, but his pit stop was close also, and he had to serve his drive-through also.

Still, such was the pace of the Red Bull man that he eventually ended up in first place after the pit stops were done, a considerable feat considering he had to make an extra stop.

Webber won the race from his teammate Vettel and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. It was the first win of the Australian, and it was a very impressive one at that.

2010 Monaco GP

Webber looked slightly slower than his young teammate Vettel in the first four races of the 2010 season. Webber was able to turn the tables on his teammate at the Spanish GP, where he was clearly faster than Vettel in both qualifying and the race.

The same pattern continued a week later in Monaco, where the Red Bulls once again looked like the class of the field, but it was Webber who was the faster of the two and took an easy pole position from Robert Kubica. Vettel only managed third after a mistake in his final flying lap.

Webber had an excellent start to his race and maintained the first position, while Vettel passed Kubica for a second. Webber looked much faster than anyone on the soft tyres and pulled away effortlessly from his teammate to build an 8-second lead.

Webber was easily able to maintain his lead once the field switched to the hard tyres. Several accidents happened throughout the race, and each time the SC deployed, the lead that Webber had built before was neutralised. Yet, the setback did not fluster the Australian, who was able to rebuild his lead every time the race was restarted and took the win from his teammate.

Vettel was shocked by how much faster Webber was during the weekend and asked the team to transfer the chassis of Webber to him. The team’s advisor Helmut Marko also told Vettel that they were cracks found in his chassis to calm the German, though a few years later, Webber in his bio told the world that there were no cracks at all.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2022 Andrew Szekler