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Popular Webber the toast of F1

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Andrew Benson | 19:39 UK time, Sunday, 12 July 2009

A driver's first grand prix win is always an uplifting moment but, as the dust settled following Mark Webber's superb drive to victory at the German Grand Prix, there were further reasons to be delighted about events at the Nurburgring.

The Australian grinned broadly as he proudly displayed his national flag while he indulged in the traditional celebrations with his team in the paddock but even those who may have been smarting over England's struggles in the first Ashes Test - though they eventually scraped a draw - would surely not begrudge him this long-awaited victory.

Webber is one of the most popular drivers in F1 and he has certainly paid his dues to get to where he is.

There are other drivers who don't like his outspokenness or feel some of his Aussie aggression sometimes goes a little bit too far but they, too, would say he fully deserves his place among Formula 1's winners.

Mark Webber

Team boss Christian Horner was as delighted for Webber as anyone, having had his faith in standing by the Australian following the accident in which he broke his leg and shoulder in his own adventure challenge last winter fully justified.

As he stood to the side of Red Bull's Energy Station team base in the wake of their celebrations, though, Horner's thoughts were already on the next challenge.

As he pointed out, the momentum is really with Red Bull right now.

Webber's crushing victory crowned the team's second consecutive one-two. And if anything their superiority was even more marked here than it was at the British Grand Prix last month.

Webber won despite a drive-through penalty, even if other aspects of the race eased that task, and Vettel fought back to second after being as low as eighth at one stage.

The major update package they put on their car for the British Grand Prix last month has taken them well clear of the rest of the field and they have taken something like 20 points out of Brawn's once-huge lead in the constructor's championship in the last three races.

Little wonder, then, that championship leader Jenson Button said it was imperative for him to get back to winning ways in Hungary in two weeks' time.

Button may not be enjoying Red Bull's charge, but it is setting up a potentially thrilling finish to the season.

Both Vettel and Webber are beginning to eat into Button's lead and, in terms of entertainment value at least, Horner is to be applauded for sticking with his philosophy that Red Bull will not impose team orders until one of them has built up a decisive advantage - even if that means letting them battle it out until the last race of the season.

Button would be forgiven for feeling a little hunted - and haunted - right now. For, all of a sudden, he has more to worry about even than the flying Red Bulls.

Brawn's drivers finished fifth and sixth at the Nurburgring, and had things gone a little more the way of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso that could easily have been seventh and eighth.

McLaren and Renault brought upgrades to their cars to Germany and both worked well.

McLaren's was the most striking and obvious after Hamilton qualified fifth - and third on fuel-corrected times. The package of a new front wing, diffuser and engine cover made the world champion's car about 0.8secs quicker than it was before. That was enough to put him in the battle for the podium had he not got a puncture, courtesy of an inadvertent tap by Webber, at the first corner and damaged his car.

You had to look a bit harder to see Renault's step forward. But, to those paying attention, the car's improved performance was obvious in qualifying on Saturday. Alonso was very quick in the first session, but his spin in the changing conditions of the second left him down in 12th place and that wrecked his chances of a decent result.

But once the double world champion had cleared most of the slower cars in front of him, he was the fastest man on the track in the closing stages of the race and he put the Brawn drivers under severe pressure, as well as setting the outright fastest lap of the race.

How the rest of the season will develop is difficult to predict, so quickly is form shifting.

"The pendulum swings," Horner pointed out. "The development steps are big ones. When people bring performance to the car it's not a hundredth here or there, its two or three 10ths."

What is clear, though, is that Button finds himself under pressure from several different directions. The championship that had appeared a cakewalk as recently as the Turkish Grand Prix three races ago now looks much less of a foregone conclusion, and he was not alone in his view after Sunday's race that he really needs to win again in Hungary.

There, Button can realistically expect hotter weather. That in itself should bring the Brawns back into contention at the front as it will enable them to get their front tyres into the right operating temperature range, something they have struggled with in the cooler weather of Silverstone and the Nurburgring.

On top of that, Brawn have their own major upgrade coming for the next race, with a new diffuser, new engine cover and new wings scheduled to appear on the car.

Team boss Ross Brawn described these as "quite good steps", which is engineer-speak for several 10ths of a second.

He will need to be right if Brawn and Button are going to stop what is already a bit of a drama for them turning into a full-blown crisis.

For those of us merely watching this fascinating season develop, though, things are brewing up very nicely indeed.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Why have you failed to mention Massa????
    He was the second best driver all day after Webber.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm so happy to see Webber get that first victory. He's been a great ambassador for the sport and Australia for a number of years and I've been proudly following each result since his first GP in Melbourne. My heart was really thumping through those first 30 laps especially. Like so many times before, Webber just had to go and tough it out the hard way. Congratulations Mark!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Congratulations to Webber - I was starting to wonder when he would win his first Grand Prix!

  • Comment number 4.

    Huge congratulations to Mark Webber - he's worked so hard over the years and now with Red Bull he finally has a race-winning car. I hope this is the first of many more victories.

    I also look forward to seeing what Renault can do in the remainder of the season - could we see a repeat of the second half of last season where Alonso was able to win races?

  • Comment number 5.

    It was a good day for F1. Well done Mark.

  • Comment number 6.

    Dont mind admitting I shed a little tear for Mark. A well dissevered win.

    I agree with gofitta, why on earth youve chosen not to mention Massa is completely beyond me.
    Not only a brilliant drive & strategy, he gave Weber a helping hand, too.
    Actually, Its not beyond me. Ferrari are small potatoes in the media circus right now arent they.
    Posing no real threat to the Button show. Oh well, thats family entertainment.

    P.S. The audio signal for the 5live commentary (& F1 in general) on this site were pitifully low all weekend.
    All other broadcasts are fine it was just F1.

  • Comment number 7.

    Congratulations to Mark Webber. He has been a truly professional driver and richly deserves this win. His ability to keep focused and overcome the drive-through penalty speaks volumes about him.

    Perhaps the stewards at Nurburgring will be demanding indicator (signal) lights on the cars from now on!

  • Comment number 8.

    Congratulations to Mark, fantastic drive to a much deserved win! Even if he did clout Rubens and effectively take Lewis out of the race.... Given his bad luck in the past he masterfully kept his head and went on to shine.

    My heart goes out to Adrian Sutil, he must think that Kimi has a personal vendetta against him after once again being taken out of a strong 4th place. He might have even been on for a podium.....

  • Comment number 9.

    Massa's strategy was spot on it was other reason why he got 3rd that ferrari is still not quick and it was only because of his KERS system that he kept his place the same reason why kovalinen held up the following pack earlier in the race.

  • Comment number 10.

    To put the German GP result in Australian terms:

    'Bout bloody time too!'

    Seriously, congratulations to MW. He certainly has waited a long time for this moment. Enjoy it for all that it is worth you've earned it.

    This will take some of the sting out the Japanese GP from a couple of years back when SV bumped him into retirement under the safety car, which is a race many people thought that he could've won given the circumstances.

    Webber has finally broken his duck. It is indeed a popular victory as can be seen/read.

    It was also fantastic to see that deep down MW is just a bogan at heart. Recall the radio transmission after he won with all of the yelling and screaming and the odd Aussie vernacular term or two?

    I guess we will have to wait a little while longer for Nick Heidfeld to break his duck. I understand that he is the driver with the highest number of starts without a win. Good luck to him in his quest.

    You bloody little ripper Mark! Go wild!

    Well the last plane out of Sydney is almost gone...

  • Comment number 11.

    MW just fantastic, but I too have had to wait a long time to see his first victory.

    10 years ago I purchased, at the Melbourne GP, a support MW into F1 T-shirt for $50.00 from him, he signed it, had a bit of a chat and wished him well. I decided not to wear that T-shirt uptill he had won his first race.

    I have been wearing it around the office all day with a big grin, so Mark and all the team well done and look forward to more race wins but lets hope I do not have to wait another 10 years.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well done Mark, all that bad luck in the past, maybe now he can start winning more, thoroughly deserving!

  • Comment number 13.

    Like so many others I can only say well done mark. I was hoping that he would win soon and to win with also having a drive through penalty, just means this was his day. Brilliant!!

  • Comment number 14.

    A JB fan here, but still really pleased for Mark to get his first win. It still seems bizarre that his engine didn't blow whilst he was in the lead, as it did a few times in the Williams, but he thoroughly deserved the win and the last couple of races have really livened the championship up again, whilst keeping JB's points cushion comfortable.

  • Comment number 15.

    Many congratulations to Mark Webber on his victory at the Nurburgring. A fully deserved win, that if it was ever going to come, this was the year. All the flashes of brilliance we have seen before - such as 5th place at Melbourne in the Minardi in 2002, and 2nd on the grid in the Jaguar at Sepang in 2004 have been obliterated by foul luck. It is about time then!

    And it looks like he has the momentum to keep this up. Sebastien Vettel was a bit off colour this weekend, but he will bounce back, so the battle for supremacy between the Red Bull drivers - and also - the chase to catch Jenson Button will be fascinating.

    Interesting to watch at the Nurburgring was the rise of McLaren in qualifying (it would have been interesting to see what Lewis Hamilton could have done without the burst tyre). Also, the Ferraris looked on form, but reliability was an issue. Ferrari are now just 2 points behind the Toyota team, which had a shocker this weekend. Getting caught out by the rain in qualifying, the pace was still in the car - Glock fought from the back of the grid to 9th place, and was just a few car lengths away from the points. Jarno Trulli, on the other hand, fought back from a damaged front wing at the first corner to set the race's 2nd fastest lap. If Toyota aren't careful, they'll hand 3rd place to Ferrari on a plate, in exactly the same fashion as in 2005.

  • Comment number 16.

    Congratulations to Mark Webber for a brilliant win!. And, as Mr. Benson wonders in his other script, I completely agree about the "could be the next Mansell" title. As the briton, he has had his good share of bad luck in the past, besides having to deal with mediocre or unrealiable (or both!) machinery for far too long. Whilst other very talented drivers such as Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen and now Vettel had the chance to have very good cars right from their debuts or thereabouts, Webber had to sit down and watch how the kids won over and over again. It must have been very frustrating, as it was also for Button. But they both kept their heads up and toughed up their act to get were they're now. If Webber will ultimately progress into a Mansell-like driver remains to be seen, but I'd really like to see him winning on a regular basis and having the chance to fight for the title. Mansell was considered a fast but unreliable driver in his first six seasons of F1 and, all of a sudden, he raised his game (of course, aided by a great car and team) to become one of the true greats. Webber has what it takes, I think, so maybe this comment will prove to be correct. Go Mark!!!

  • Comment number 17.

    to post nr. 16: Not true, Vettel and Alonso not had race winning cars in their first seasons. Probably Villeneuve and Hamilton!

  • Comment number 18.

    @post 16.

    Kimi started at Sauber, a mid pack team
    Alonso started at Minardi
    Vettle started at Toro Roso hardly a pace setter.
    Lewis, yes he did step into a good car but he is hardly the 1st rookie to do that and the only other rookie who has stepped into such a good car and done so well is Villeneuve, who was already a well respected driver with experience of winning top flight championships.
    Webber also started at Minardi, and has had the chance to shine before in good cars but due to bad luck and reliability always fell short.

    I am curious about the comparison to Mansell, Mark has a long way to go to deserve that comparison. I am not trying to rain on his parade because he fought hard and won a crushing victory on Sunday. I just hope he isn't another Johnny Herbert....

  • Comment number 19.

    Well done to Mark, he commanded that race and deserved the win - no doubt about that. Nobody can agrue it by saying the big guns retired! He won because he was the best and it was about time! Also very good timing to throw a spanner in the works with regards to Red Bull challenging the Drivers title. Although I like Vettel and he's a fantastic driver, and also a Button fan, I would like to see Webber get the nod if he can keep this run going. We'll see I guess

    Sorry but, I don't think any of the current drivers could be compared to Mansell, Senna, Prost, or whoever of the classic drivers you want to name. Those guys drove with a lot less electronic aids and technology. I mean could you imagine Lewis Hamilton driving the old stick shift for 70 odd laps of the streets of Monte Carlo? ;-) I remember reading that Mansell was driving there and his gear knob broke off! I can't remember the year but I bet he still finished well too

    No offense to the modern blokes, but it's all too different now I think

  • Comment number 20.

    Would have commented yesterday but immediately after the Grand Prix I switched channels to watch, through my fingers, the climax of the first Ashes test.
    Congrats Mark Webber! I couldn't be happier, and as one of the few British fans that isn't worshipping Button right now, Webber has my full backing in all his successes. Enjoyed his interviews with Hewitt and Ponting, but extra pats on the back for being the Aussie who really delivered!
    May he have many many more!!

  • Comment number 21.

    PaddyN- Yes things are different now but if you think any current driver couldn't / wouldn't learn how to and train themselves to the level needed to drive "the old cars" then you must be barking. They all would.... As for new greats I think Lewis, Alonso and maybe Vettle all have the potential to be looked back on as greats.

  • Comment number 22.

    Here,Here! to Pilbara F1 Looney (great name,that).
    Yes, I'm a tue Aussie, born & bred, and, yes, I am probably biased, but I gotta say this-
    How refreshing it was, to see some genuine, honest, raw emotion, and appreciation from a racewinner.......rather than some snobbish, toffee nosed upstart, with his ego so far up his bum he can't even smile, saying "ooh, yes, it does feel good to win", like it was his god given right or something.

    Maybe it's Aussie thing, but we tell it like it is. Good or Bad.
    Good on you Mark, for bring some real humanity to the fake, oversized egoism of the F1 world.

    (ahh, I fell beter now that I have that off my chest......)

  • Comment number 23.

    Webber the next Nige? Leave it out! Nige was one hell of an annoying personality out of the car but in it, he used to drive like his pants were on fire. People tend to over exaggerate whenever, well, anything happens as a matter of fact and this enlightening Webber/Mansell analogy is yet further proof.

    Hopefully, Andrew will give us the opportunity to see the 1989 Hungarian GP next week for the classic GP feature (Andrew, why not just show the entire race, highlights wont do it justice, and the other Hungarian GP's before the ITV era are as interesting as Our Nige in a press conference).

    Webber is more in the Patrese mould.

  • Comment number 24.

    Any chance of uploading this weeks forum?

    Missed it

  • Comment number 25.

    Loved his genuine heartfelt reaction after his win glad to see raw emotion from him but also Jenson after a win rather than somebody like Kimi!! Really good race he drove well but for me it was a tie between him and Massa for driver of the day, Sutil also deserves a honourable mention seeing as he was on for a great result yet again until (yet again!) he and Kimi had another... collision.

  • Comment number 26.

    25 - Kimi's reactions and behaviour after winning races are the best. What's there to cry about? You race. You win or lose. You start to prepare for the next race. No need for a song and dance, let alone tears.

    That said, well done Webber; a great driver and well deserved long over due win. But he too could now reflect on his outburst and insults directed on Kimi when they had a collision recently. It can happen to the best of them, as Webber himself saw in Germany... But to win despite the drive-through penalty, very impressive!

  • Comment number 27.

    Congratulations to MW! A well deserved win on the day, no one was close to his pace apart from Vettel near the end. But all his talk of Webber being an underrated talent by the bloggers...hmmm. This may be the first season hes been in a grand prix winning car, but his victory's been a long time coming. Vettel has the edge on him for raw pace.

  • Comment number 28.

    Paid his dues???

    You mean he has gone a long time without succeeding.

    Webber is probably a very good duy, he is also a good race driver, but to suggest that he is now somehow worthy of being bracketed with guys of real talent like Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonnen, Massa and even Vettel is simply ludicrous.

  • Comment number 29.

    I don't know: Mansell was impressive AFTER 1985. Before, he was just a fast driver, very irregular at that, and with a tendency to crash quite often. When he got to drive a very very good car, he started delivering the goods. The "old" drivers weren't better than the actual ones: they had different cars, in different tracks and their situations where different. At the 1999 San Marino GP, a Mr. Schumacher (Michael) drove for a few laps the ex-Patrick Tambay 1983 Ferrari 126C2B which the frenchman took to victory in that year's GP. He climbed-off all excited, tired and in awe of how those guys could stand a Grand Prix distance with cars with so little downforce, poor brakes, manual gearboxes and "all-or-nothing" Turbo engines. But he posted a very good time..... The human being is the same as before, and so is for F1 drivers: they drive what they have at their disposal and learn to deal with it. Oh, and I KNOW that Alonso debuted at Minardi, Kimi at Sauber and Massa at Sauber too. That's why I said "..or thereabouts", because Alonso only had ONE season in the Minardi and then went to RENAULT; and Kimi stayed ONE season at Sauber (a good car in '01, by the way) and then went to MCLAREN. Massa did stay far longer at Sauber, and he only won once he got a FERRARI. So stop that nonesense about Webber (or any other) not being as good as.....(fill for yourselves). I've been watching F1 for 32 years now and have seen my share of drivers come and go. And I KNOW when one of them is good enough to win given a fast and reliable car.....I'm a woman, yes, but I know my racing........

 

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