This is the last year in Formula 1 for Mark Webber, it is sort of hard to comprehend really. One of the most recognizable and unique characters of the modern F1 is about to leave the show at the end of this year. His driving, his character and his antics will be sorely missed. If you happen to follow Formula 1 that is. WRC folks often frown when asked about “roundy racing” but if you’re in love with cars and motor sports, you cannot avoid F1. Mark Webber will be remembered as one of the best drivers, no doubt about that. In a team shaped and sculpted around Sebastian Vettel, Webber was able to claim his space and express his opinion even if it meant going against the team or company policy of presenting themselves as a merry happy rainbow unicorn club. “Not bad for a number 2, eh?” will never be forgotten. Sure, Mark had his bad moments, bitter disappointments, but the pressure in Red Bull was huge and more often than not he was faced with difficult choices with regards to company loyalty, racer’s hunger for victories and the very career in Formula 1. For me, Mark handled it like a true professional, but he also refused to bend all the way, and that is worth his weight in gold these days. In the world of political correctness and diplomatic communication he was often the one to speak his mind. I will really miss the guy.
But hey, Mark’s not going anywhere really. Or rather, he won’t be so hard to catch and follow in the next couple of years. From Formula 1 to Porsche Le Mans team, Mark will be around the top motor sports arena in the foreseeable future. I have no doubt he is excited about the new challenge which is testing, development and racing of Porsche new, super advanced LMP1 racer, built for the World Endurance Championship series. It will be a huge challenge for everyone involved, but don’t you go doubting them – just look at what Red Bull and Volkswagen are doing in World Rally Championship. They know how to do things and have the means and resources to achieve their goals.
Step by step, brand name by brand name, we’re led to this idea I cannot get out of my head. Somehow, it feels natural for Volkswagen/Porsche and Red Bull to prepare another little project for Mr Webber. I really hoped to see him in the World Rally Championship, but it seems our series is not seen as a popular “retirement” option for the ex F1 pilots. We’re still not on TV (daily reports are not enough!) and all that, but let’s say next year brings positive changes in that area. Can Mark be lured into WRC for a single round? I am painfully (no pun intended) aware of the consequences of Robert Kubica’s rally accident and how it affected his and Renault’s F1 plans, so I don’t suppose F1 and other series’ drivers can actually jump into rally cars when they feel like it. But still, I am positive it would be a huge thing for the sport, for Mark and for all the companies involved. He is an international star with immense experience, he will be part of legendary motor sport team next year and he is backed by the mother of all energy drinks (I don’t really mean that – I’m a coffee guy!!!). If Mark could do a rally or two I am sure WRC’s popularity would soar.
Perhaps WRC could actually do something along these lines – connect with other branches and disciplines, share the fanbase and excitement, but also drivers. Nobody expects Mark to hop in a rally car and set fastest stage times. It would mostly be about having fun, promoting the sport and his and series’ sponsors, but most of all, entertain the fans. Just look at what Robert Kubica is doing (popularity wise, of course – Kubica is also bloody quick!). Mark would be warmly welcomed and I am sure he would be instantly popular with WRC and rally fans.
What say you Red Bull, Porsche and Volkswagen? Can this be done in some capacity?