THE news that Mark Webber is leaving the Red Bull F1 team and retiring from the sport at the end of the season will cast a shadow over this weekend’s British Grand Prix for many of his UK fans.
The straight-talking Australian is a popular figure in the paddock and one who has earned the respect of the other teams and drivers for his firm but fair racing style.
Webber, who has played second fiddle to triple world champion Sebastian Vettel during his seven years at Red Bull Racing will next year be competing at Le Mans and racing in the Sports Car World Endurance Championship in what Porsche say is multi-year deal.
Webber is a hot favourite for this weekend’s British Grand Prix which, due in part to high prices, still has tickets available on the gate for the first time in several years, but they will cost you £200 plus parking to get into the circuit on Sunday to see the race.
The Australian spent much of his formative years in racing at the Home of British Motorsport and has a good record on the iconic circuit, so his army of fans will be cheering him on this weekend. Personally, I would love to see Mark win a few more races before he leaves the sport, but I would especially like him to win on Sunday.
The Mercedes team will also be hoping for a good result, but the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa will certainly be mixing it at the top of the field this weekend.
Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus could also be up there, along the Force Indias which have been running well in recent races, and McLaren will no doubt be praying for an improvement in pace for one of the fastest circuits on the Formula 1 calendar.
Whatever the outcome, it is Webber who will be grabbing all the headlines this weekend.
In a statement, Red Bull Racing said: “Following Mark Webber’s decision to retire from Formula One racing at the end of the year, Infiniti Red Bull Racing would like to thank him for the extensive contribution he has made to the team during the seven seasons he has driven for us.
“During that time, the Australian has achieved nine wins*, 35 podiums (36 in total during his F1 career) and 11 pole positions. Marks’ dedication and success has also been a major factor in the team achieving three Constructors’ World Championships (2010, 2011 and 2012).
Christian Horner “I am sure Mark thought long and hard before making what has no doubt been a very difficult decision. His achievements in Formula One are extensive and I am sure he will continue to push hard and build on that record until the end of the season. We support Mark’s decision, he has been an excellent addition to the team since joining us in 2007 and we wish him all the best in the next stages of his career.”
They added that a decision Webber’s replacement will not be made until later in the season – but who bet against Paul di Resta being near the top of their wish list?