The formidable Australian walked through the Formula One paddock for the last time in Brazil. Mark Webber has captured the hearts of Formula One fans all over the world through his 12 year period in the sport.
Mark's journey began in 2002 as a Minardi driver where he qualified in 18th place on his debut in front of what would become his adoring fans in Australia; but the story that weekend was not that he out qualified his team mate Alex Yoong in the same car on the Saturday, it was to be the stunning performance to keep his car out of trouble and steer it to an incredible fifth place securing 2 points for the team who had not scored a point in three years. Most Formula One fans will remember that Mark finished fifth in his first race more than they can remember who actually won that race. From that moment a new star was born.
The future looked positive for Webber, when Jaguar came and signed him for the 2003 season. However, Mark could only come close on certain occasions to snatching a podium in his time at Jaguar. As reliability cursed this bright new talent's ride to the top, as Mark found himself talking to press more halfway through the races rather than finishing them. Hope was beginning to fade for Mark Webber as a competitive drive was alluding him.
Despite the struggles at Jaguar, Mark's talent was not ignored as he joined one of the big name teams in Williams who had been a major force in Formula One for decades. Everyone in the paddock was expecting too finally see the best of Mark Webber who had shown glimpses of it when he could at Jaguar. All of the promises though came to nothing as Williams began to lose grip on the top teams in 2005 and Webber was finding himself back in the midfield. However, in Monaco we finally saw him take to the podium with a 3rd place finish.
It was not until he moved to Red Bull in 2007 that we would see the best of Mark. He had to patiently wait for two years until he finally had a car ready to win in 2009. The race win eventually came at the German Grand Prix when even a drive through penalty was not going to stop Mark from picking up his maiden win in Formula One. We all remember that famous piece of team radio after that race with Mark Webber screaming yes down the radio. All the hard work, all the pain of missing out at Jaguar and Williams had finally escaped him when he crossed the line in Nurburgring.
It was not really Mark's talent and determination that made Formula One fans love him. It was the fact that he wore his heart on his sleeve and said whatever he liked to the media. That's why he had such a big following for the 2010 season, especially after the front wing scandal at Red Bull at Silverstone in qualifying. Mark Webber went onto win that race with the famous piece of team radio "Not bad for a number 2 driver". That day won Webber a lot of fans. Sadly Webber was not able to take the title that year. He may have never won a world championships but he will forever be the people's champion.