Date of birth: 27 August, 1976
Place of birth: Queanbeyan, NSW, Australia
It is a well-known fact that Mark Webber is often noted as ‘the number 2’ driver to Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. But by reducing Webber to the mere role of a sidekick is doing the Australian and his achievements a grave injustice. He initially started out by racing motorcycles but moved to racing cars when he was 14. After competing in a string of local Australian races (managing one championship win and regularly featuring in the top 10), his first major achievement took place in 1996 when he won the Formula Holden race held at the Australian GP in Melbourne. The same year he was the runner-up in the British Formula Ford championship after moving permanently to Britain. In 1998 he was the runner-up in the FIA GT Championship while racing for Bernd Schneider. After an unsuccessful outing at Le Mans the following year with Mercedes AMG, he took part in the FIA International Formula 3000 championship in 2001 and again and came second overall. He was chosen as a test driver for the Benetton F1 team but made his debut with the now-defunct racing outfit Minardi in 2002 and emerged 5th in his very first race which took place in Australia.
He shifted to the Jaguar team the following year and came 10th in the championship. After struggling to match his previous pace in the 2004 season, he signed up for Williams for the 2005 season where the only highlight was his 3rd place in Monaco. 2006 was not at all positive for Webber since he spent more time in the pit-lane because of a higher incidence of retirements than finishes. Red Bull snapped him up for the 2007 season where he partnered with David Coulthard. In 2008, he finished 11th overall (going one better than the previous year). In 2009, he secured his first pole position and win in Germany and took a second win in Brazil and found a new partner in Sebastian Vettel. He was the leading contender to win the 2010 championship but lost out to his team-mate due to poor strategy. In 2011 he was overshadowed by Vettel but his one win in the last race in Brazil ended his year with a high.
Webber enjoys rugby, football, cycling and cricket (no surprise since Australians are well known for their love of sports). He is an avid supporter of children’s cancer research charities and has raised funds for the same. His interests in music range from pop star Pink to U2 and Oasis. With many F1 insiders touting this to be his final season (to make way for a new driver from Toro Rosso) he may well be motivated to make this a season to remember. In his words he is “very, very optimistic and positive that I’ll have a very, very strong season.” Mark those words (pun intended).