I spotted Mark Webber in the rugby crowd yesterday, while working with the TV on. Now a former Formula driver, Webber put Porsche on the F1 podium in his final two appearances. Name-checking his future employer in front of the viewing millions, Webber reminded F1 fans that racing is not all about Bernie’s 22-seat circus.
Webber will race Porsche’s LMP prototype in next year’s World Endurance Championship, and escape to a better life-work balance. Mark’s final race in Brazil last weekend was the perfect send-off for the paddock’s favourite fighter.
“It was a very good finish to my career,” Mark told reporters afterwards. “A good fight with all the guys I’ve enjoyed fighting with for most of my career: Seb, Fernando, Lewis, Nico – all the guys who’ve been in the window for the last five or six years.”
F1’s media entourage (and us fans) will miss Webber’s forthright camera face next year. I don’t know who else will step up to the “tell it like it is” role. Jenson Button, maybe – could be his last year, too. Mark’s final F1 weekend was loaded with self-effacing Aussie style.
“Maybe I didn’t have absolute natural talent, but I knew that if I grafted and worked hard, I’d get the results,” said Webber, before his final race. “I smashed a lot of guys who had more talent than me, because they didn’t work as hard as me. 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.” I totally get what he’s saying, and how good it feels to work hard for results.
WEC with Stuttgart won’t be a walk in the park, but there’ll be more space to breathe, time to walk the dogs, and opportunities to help and encourage younger sportsmen and women. I’m sure Mark will be top man at keeping his positive influence going. As we all know, energy can neither be created nor destroyed, and hard-grafting Webber has energy to spare.