Since 1991 everything in the life of Australian Mark Webber has been dedicated to competition. Karting, Formula Ford, Formula 3, Formula 3000, 215 Formula 1 Grand Prix, including nine victories and 42 podiums. In 2013 he found his home in Porsche. Right away, in 2015, he became the FIA Endurance World Champion, a title he fought hard for alongside Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley in the 919 Hybrid prototype. But 2016 marks a year of change in the popular Australian's life. Earlier this summer he married Ann, his longtime partner; On 27 August he turned 40 and, at the end of the season, he will retire from professional competition to take on his new role as special representative and consultant for the Stuttgart house.
Webber is a simple man and honest with himself. In his book Aussie Grit (Australian Endurance): My Journey Through Formula 1, published in 2015, he gives a deep insight into his career. He leaves his home in Queanbeyan, New South Wales (Australia), at the age of 19, with one clear goal: to advance his racing career in England. He was one of many, one of those without sponsors, but with a natural talent. He won the prestigious Formula Ford Festival, at Brands Hatch, and participated in Formula 3 and Formula 3000.
Later they proposed to him to join the sports program of Mercedes. The 24 Hours of Le Mans race was to be the highlight of the 1999 season. The car and the team were considered favorites. But the vehicle's aerodynamics were on the razor's edge. Webber's prototype flipped backward in qualifying and again in warm-up. He emerged unscathed from the two dramatic blows, but his career seemed to have run out of steam. However, fortunes turned with a successful Formula 1 test for the Benetton team, which secured him a spot as a tester and reserve driver in 2001.
Webber's Formula 1 debut was memorable: he finished fifth in 2002 at his home Grand Prix in Melbourne, with a clearly disadvantaged Minardi. In 2005 he got his first podium with the former BMW WilliamsF1 team. And finally, he celebrated his first F.1 triumph at the 2009 German Grand Prix, with Red Bull Racing, after 131 Grand Prix contested. In 2010 and 2012 he won the Monaco Grand Prix.
After 15 years, it was an older and more mature Webber who returned to La Sarthe in 2014. His eventful experience of 1999 seemed far behind, but the most desired victory continued to resist: in 2014, while driving in second position only Two hours after finishing, a malfunction in the propulsion system shattered the dream.
In 2015 the 919 that he shared again with Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley was leading during the first third of the test, but a penalty pushed them back several places. Then the trio charged forward and reached second place. In 2016 it was a damaged water pump that prevented him and his teammates from winning Le Mans.
The biggest win came in the harrowing final race of the season, in November 2015, at Barhein: both throttle levers broke and it was fully locked. The 919 was only able to finish the race thanks to the incredible support of the engineers from a distance and a pilot's sensitivity that seemed superhuman. The crown was at stake. “To have achieved my first world champion title with Timo, Brendon and Porsche means a lot to me,” says Webber, who never talks about this feat without naming his teammates.
What's not new is the affinity it has with Porsche. As a teenager he drove a 911, loaned by a friend, and when he bought his first Porsche he went straight to a Turbo. Today his collection includes a 918 Spyder, a 911 R, a GT3 RS (991), a 911 GT2 RS (997), a 911 GT3 RS 4.0, a 356 1954 Cabriolet and a 2.7 1974 Carrera.[sam_pro id = "0_1" codes = "true"]