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Mark Webber

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Austin, Texas, 15 November 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd20 Brazilian Grand Prix, Practice, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 23 November 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB7.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 6,  Monaco Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 26 May 2011 (L to R): Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates his pole position in parc ferme with second placed team mate Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Hungarian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Budapest, Hungary, Saturday, 31 July 2010 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing on the podium. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 19, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 27 November 2011 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd19 United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, 16 November 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Saturday, 26 May 2012 Race winner Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing celebrates at the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Race Day, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Sunday, 27 May 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd9, British Grand Prix, Race, Silverstone, England, Sunday, 8 July 2012

For such a dedicated sports fanatic, Mark Webber came into the world of motor racing relatively late - aged 14. He first competed on motorbikes, but after trying his hand at karting - and notching up several state titles in his native New South Wales - the young Australian decided to stick with four wheels over two.

He moved into the Australian Formula Ford championship in 1994 and finished 14th. His first victories came the following year and included a memorable win in the support race for the Australian Grand Prix. Then came a startling international debut, Webber taking third place at the 1995 Formula Ford Festival in the UK.

That Brands Hatch outing helped him score a Van Diemen drive in the 1996 British Formula Ford championship. He made the most of the opportunity, winning four races on his way to the series’ runner-up slot. He also returned to Brands Hatch for the ’96 Festival, this time emerging victorious.

Stepping up to British Formula Three in 1997, Webber took fourth place in the championship with compatriot Alan Docking’s team. He added a third place in the Marlboro Masters at Zandvoort and a fourth in the Macau Grand Prix - successes that attracted the attentions of the Mercedes AMG sportscar squad, who signed him up for the 1998 FIA GT championship. Teamed with reigning world champion Bernd Schneider, Webber took five wins and only narrowly missed out on the title.

Retained by AMG for the reduced 1999 series, Webber was part of the team’s doomed assault on that year’s Le Mans 24-hour race. Twice he survived unscathed after his Mercedes famously flipped at high speed, ultimately forcing AMG to withdraw from the event, and the season, prompting Webber to abandon his sportscar career and return his focus to single-seaters. Eddie Jordan introduced him to entrepreneur and fellow Australian Paul Stoddart, who was putting together a new Formula 3000 squad. After an impressive test outing Stoddart swiftly signed Webber to race in 2000.

A win, three podiums and third in the championship were the result, proving Webber hadn’t lost his single-seater touch, and Stoddart’s affiliation with Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw also helped land him his first Formula One tests. Then Flavio Briatore and Benetton came calling and contracted Webber as test and reserve driver for 2001. As part of the deal, he continued competing in F3000 for the Super Nova squad. With his attentions increasingly on his F1 commitments, he finished second in the title race to Britain’s Justin Wilson, but more importantly secured a 2002 race seat with Minardi, now led by Stoddart.

A fifth-place finish in front of his home crowd on his Grand Prix debut was more than Webber, or indeed Minardi, could have hoped for. But it was no fluke and over the rest of the season he continued to surpass expectations, consistently out-qualifying team mate Alex Yoong, and racing much higher up the field than many thought his car should allow.

He progressed to Jaguar in 2003 where he continued to show the qualifying flair that was fast becoming a trademark - although the car was not overly competitive in race trim, Webber regularly pushed it to a top-ten grid slot, qualifying an amazing third in both Brazil and Hungary. He also won 17 of Jaguar’s 18 points that season and many were left wondering what the Australian could achieve with a top drive. However, sticking with the Ford-owned team for 2004, Webber was left frustrated by a downturn in their fortunes. Despite qualifying in the top six on three occasions, he scored just seven points all year and announced he would drive for Williams in 2005.

On paper the move should have been for the better, but Williams, one of the midfield’s leading lights in 2004, hit a dead-end. Webber’s qualifying form remained as strong as ever, but 36 points and in tenth in the championship fell far short of his expectations. A second year with the British squad in ’06 proved equally thankless and will be remembered as much for Webber’s 11 retirements and his meagre seven-point tally as for his spectacular front-row grid slot in Monaco.

Calling time on his Williams career, Webber headed to Red Bull for the 2007 season. With Renault power and Adrian Newey design, the team’s RB3 machine undoubtedly had potential, but its poor reliability meant Webber's regular top-ten qualifying performances rarely translated into points. The most notable exception was a deserved third place at the Nurburgring. Race pace was more the problem in 2008, when a fourth in Monaco was his best outing. His speed over a single lap remained unquestionable, however, as proven by his P2 grid slot at Silverstone - Red Bull’s first-ever front-row start.

Preparations for 2009 were hampered by a broken leg sustained over the winter in a cycling accident. Nevertheless, as new team mate Sebastian Vettel stole the headlines with Red Bull’s first win, Webber’s campaign gradually gained momentum and round nine in Germany saw him finally clinch his first F1 victory in 130 starts. Though ultimately unable to challenge for the title, he won again in Brazil and finished the year a very respectable fourth in the standings.

Given that he was gifted with Red Bull's very quick RB6, Webber’s 2010 season got off to a disappointingly slow start. But once he’d got into the swing of things, victories in Spain, Monaco, Britain and Hungary more than made up for it. There were blips, including a collision with team mate Vettel in Turkey, but he arrived at the season finale as one of four drivers still in with a shot at the title. Poor pit strategy during the race, however, saw him eventually finish third overall.

The 2011-spec Red Bull was even more dominant than its predecessor but Webber spent the season in the doldrums, lacking both form and fortune. Pushed into the shadows by Vettel, who scored 15 pole positions, 11 victories and a second successive world title, Webber managed just three poles and a single victory (at the season finale in Brazil).

Staying with Red Bull for 2012, Webber was determined to make amends and the banning of exhaust-blown diffusers, which Red Bull had utilised so well in 2011, suited the Australian who had struggled to adapt to the particular driving style they required.

2012 began with four consecutive fourth places before he finally made it onto the podium, and the top step no less, in Monaco. He added a second victory at the British Grand Prix in July and for a while looked a genuine title contender, before his form (and to some extent his luck) dipped in the second half of the season, just as team mate Vettel’s improved. He ended 2012 sixth in the championship, 102 points down on Vettel.

Webber’s Red Bull rivalry with Vettel continued apace in 2013 - in round two of the championship in Malaysia, the German drew the Australian’s ire by controversially overtaking him for the lead, despite being issued with an order (‘multi 21’) from the Red Bull pit wall to hold station.

It would be just one of many frustrations for Webber in 2013. It was a season in which he scored several podiums, but in which cruel luck also robbed him of many more championship points, and in June he announced it would be his last in F1 racing and that he’d be moving to sportscars with Porsche in 2014.