Thursday, August 19, 2004

Mark Webber - The next Aussie F1 champ!

Things are going fantastic for Mark Webber at the moment and I thought id jot down a short history of the great racer tipped to the next Australian F1 World Champion.

Mark first started racing in the early 1990's in karts before moving onto formula 3 both here and in England. In 1998 he joined the Mercedes junior team in the FIA GT Series. Its here that he first started to turn heads in the international motorsport community. He won 5 races and came second in the series.

He was geared up for a great 1999 but as it turns out its probably one year he'd rather forget. The FIA GT series was cancelled and he moved over to the Mercedes Le Mans team. After thousands of kilometers of testing the team started their Le Mans campaign with high hopes.

During Thursday practice Mark was going over the hill at the end of Mulsane straight when his car got airborne and somersaulting several times. He was shaken but un-hurt (above). The team repaired the car and Mark head out into Saturday practice. Unfortunately the same thing happened, the car got airborne and flipped. The team had no choice but to abandon the event. That pretty much summed up Marks year.

In 2000 Mark drove Formula 3000 for the Arrows Formula 3000 Junior team whilst doing some testing for the Arrows F1 squad. This progressed to a full time test roll in 2001 for Renault and a drive in F3000 with the Supernova squad.

It is here that Marks relationship with Flavio Briatore begun. Falvio became Marks manager and helped him into a seat at Minardi for the following season

Mark had an amazing debut in F1 with Paul Stoddarts Minardi team and scored the teams first points for two years (right) at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. Mark did things with the Minardi that he just shouldn't off like qualifying higher than the Jordans, Saubers and even the BAR's on occasions.

The rest of the F1 fraternity could no longer ignore Mark and he was snapped up by Jaguar on a three year deal starting in 2003. He continued to perform well, out qualifying and out racing several team-mates with a less than perfect Jaguar.

Once it was clear that Jaguar wouldn't be able to keep Mark for 2005 due to a team performance clause the rumor-mill had him signed for Williams (left) long before Sir Frank had his signature on the contract.

His relationship with Falvio Briatore had meant that the Renault team had wanted him but Mark had long dreamed of driving for the team that had given Australia its only F1 World Championship in 1980 with Alan Jones at the wheel. With the appropriate deals done Mark signed with Williams after the 2004 German GP for a, thought to be, three year deal.

This all bodes well for Mark and i'm sure we will see a lot of him in the next few seasons.

Good Luck Mark!


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