I wrote this in November 2011 but never published it… So rewind and it may make more sense.
It’s no secret, I’m one of Mark Webber’s biggest fans. A disappointed fan, at the moment, but still his biggest fan.
I’m fairly new to this amazing sport we call Formula 1, having only “discovered” it two years ago, and following it religiously for the past twelve months or so.
I’m quite vocal about Mark’s standings this season, not having landed a #1 finish, and having a number of issues with his racing strategy and starting issues. On the other hand, Mark has consistently produced finishes in the top five or so drivers, and sits at fourth in the championship. And it makes me wonder, how can he be so consistent, yet not achieve a win in the 2011 season?
I have varying views on Redbull Racing as a team, and their support for Mark. Certainly, in the 2010 season, Mark was recorded famously for his remark, “fantastic drive, not bad for a #2 driver” in response to his win at Silverstone in 2010. A catastrophic array of events in the 2011 season begs the question, “is he getting the support he needs”, with his most recent drive in Abu Dhabi being set back by a poor tyre/pit strategy, and perhaps more damaging, a horrible pit stop where the rear left wheel nut was dropped.
Certainly in 2011, Mark is the #2 driver, with Sebastien Vettel’s outstanding 14 wins and championship victory, overshadowing Mark’s prowess in the final leg of many of the races. In one such incident, Mark was very quickly gaining ground on Sebastien in the remaining laps of the race, Christian Horner came over the radio and requested Mark to “maintain the gap”. These team orders infuriated Mark and his fans alike, albeit a sensible decision for the championship. And it is just that, infuriating.
I’m hoping Mark will pick up a few more wins in the 2012 season. I think he is a great driver, very consistent, and very entertaining to watch when he is going head to head with other drivers. It’s a real shame he hasn’t been able to excel as much as his team mate, and I can only dream of him taking the championship next year.