My F1 Cars: Webber’s route from ‘pain in the ass’ Minardi to all-conquering Red Bull

My F1 Cars

Posted on

| Written by

A height of marginally over six foot (1.84m) always was going to be a massive handicap to carry into Formula 1 for Mark Webber.

Yet the Australian regularly managed to shade his four-inch-shorter Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who, crucially, was 12 kilograms (26lbs) lighter. Indeed, Webber won nine grands prix in 215 starts and scored 13 poles, including two at Monaco and one at Spa-Francorchamps.

In 1999 while racing sports cars for Mercedes, Webber attracted the interest of fellow Australian Paul Stoddart, then an astute ‘super fan’ with an eye to future F1 team ownership. Stoddart brokered an F3000 drive and Barcelona F1 test with Arrows for Webber, then race deals in both categories. Ultimately aviation entrepreneur Stoddart, who spoke to RaceFans at length for a series last year, played a major role in Webber’s career.

Arrows-Supertec A20 (1999, test)

Minardi’s Paul Stoddart helped Webber in F1
Webber describes the Arrows A20, raced by Pedro de la Rosa and Toranosuke Takagi in the 1999 season, as the F1 car he “lost my virginity” in. The car scored a single point all season. “It wasn’t at the front of the grid,” Webber recalls, understatedly, adding with his trademark grin, “but, it had all the lumps and bumps in the right places to get the job done…”

The car’s handling around the Circuit de Catalunya made a serious impression on him.

“Any time you step up from the junior categories into Formula 1, it doesn’t matter what type of F1 car it is, it’s going to be an incredibly unique experience. The speed, the brute force of those cars, the power to weight ratio really hits you very, very quickly. And I was on a pretty good circuit as well.

“It’s a real wake-up call, the G-forces, the load on the body, and you very quickly see the level of fitness you need to operate these cars for two hours. That’s the biggest wake up call. Then, of course, the people in the garage, you’ve got a big entourage to get used to. So, your first test is always a big one, irrespective of performance of the vehicle.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Benetton B201-Renault (2001, test)

Webber with Button, Fisichella and Alonso at Benetton’s launch
However, Stoddart and Arrows boss Walkinshaw soon fell apart acrimoniously, and Webber tested for Benetton. The team mutated into Renault, with team boss Flavio Briatore taking up Webber’s management contract off the back of the test.

“That was a bit more serious,” he recalls of the Estoril test, where race driver Giancarlo Fisichella was present. “It was really an evaluation. Flavio was having a look at me at the time as a genuine test driver back then when you did do quite a lot of mileage as a test driver.

“There were quite a few drivers in the picture. I was quite nervous going to the test – I’d done a seat fitting at the factory in Enstone, but I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was going to be as physically I was a bit big for the car.

“Thankfully, Alex Wurz [1.86m] had been there not long beforehand, which was good because ‘Wurzie’ moved out the furniture a bit, so I could get my ass and knees into the car. That was a really serious test for me, it was a few days so, of course, I didn’t have a chance to recover.

“You get tired, neck, [over] all the parts of the body which have never really had too much exposure to the sort of forces. That was a real eye-opener to do multiple days, and plenty of sets of tyres. And when you’ve got loads of tyres to test, that means more G-forces as well.

“We had a monumental engine failure on the front straight, so that was a pretty spectacular finish to one of the days. But it was a good test.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

Minardi-Asiatech PS02 (2002)

A huge first-lap crash at Melbourne opened the door for Webber to take a shock fifth on his debut

Testing for Benetton prepared Webber for his grand prix debut – in March 2002 on home soil, with Minardi, which had been acquired in the interim by Stoddart. History records the combination scored a magical fifth place in Australia, edging out the might of Toyota. However, Webber recalls the car as being “literally a pain in the ass”.

Webber got acquainted with the PS02 at Valencia
“That was a car I didn’t fit into,” he explained. “I was pretty purple from bruising in that one. We tested in Valencia in the build-up to the season and funding was not exactly Minardi’s strong point; we had to be really measured in the build-up to the [race].

“It was a two-race contract [initially], Australia and Malaysia. I think the longest constant run I did [in testing] was 17 laps and it was a 58-lap race.

“At the end the car was literally falling apart underneath me. The differential was gone, we couldn’t open the fuel flap at the pit stops, it wasn’t linked to the pit limiter, there was all sorts of stuff. We had to open that manually with a screwdriver – you couldn’t make some of the stuff up.”

Though underpowered, the PS02 handled well, Webber recalls. “It was a nimble car, particularly on its Michelin tyres,” he says. But cracking the top six – the only points-paying positions 19 years ago – was a challenge. He took eighth in France and 10th at the season finale in Japan – plus four 11th-place finishes.

“We had some good races in it,” Webber recalls, “top six was hard to get. I think we finished a few races in the top 10 so would really have got more points these days. But that’s how the cookie crumbles. But Magny-Cours, Monaco were a few good races.”

Jaguar-Cosworth R3, R4 and R5 (2003-04)

Webber felt “really at one” with the first Jaguar he raced, the R4

Webber’s performances with Minardi caught the eye of Niki Lauda, then team boss of Jaguar Racing. “I did a test with the [R3] in the middle of [2002] which went well,” Webber explains. “The [Cosworth] engine was incredible, real power. The car wasn’t special in terms of balance, so aerodynamically needed a lot of love.”

Webber tested an R3 at the end of 2002
Webber signed with the green team after the test. But by the time he arrived in Milton Keynes Lauda was on his way out, which Webber recalls was “frustrating”. Still, he enjoyed the season, which also saw the introduction of one-lap qualifying.

“I really was at one with that [R4] when it counted over one lap. A big-engined car that was a real handful in the races. That was evident because we always qualified towards the front, but then [it was] very hard to hang on to, particularly aerodynamically.”

Three sixth places and four sevenths were the result – fortunately for Webber points had been extended to eighth place that year. He took 10th in the standings.

“With experience, looking back,” he says, “we focussed on the wrong things. Even with the engineering team we were barking up the wrong tree, not measuring enough and [not] getting enough data and science into understanding why we were killing the tyres.

Points were harder to come by in 2004 Jaguar
“That all become apparent later on in my career, why and how you need to respect the aerodynamics so much.”

Matters did not improve markedly for his second season at Jaguar, which was the team’s last before selling out to Red Bull Racing, now based at the same Milton Keynes address.

“It was good for me to be associated with such a big team,” he says, “but ultimately, they did not have the resources or firepower to focus on areas that made the biggest performance gains, which was clearly aero.

“I think Cosworth were a phenomenal company, they did a brilliant job although reliability was a bit flaky which was understandable given what they were up against.”

Williams-BMW FW28, Williams-Cosworth FW29 (2005-06)

Webber was thrilled by Montoya’s race-winning Williams…

Williams beckoned next. Webber’s arrival evoked comparisons with another successful Australian, Alan Jones, who delivered the team’s first championship success.

…but their final BMW-powered car disappointed
Yet a partnership which promised much left both parties extremely disappointed. After testing the FW27 which won the season-closing race of the 2004 season in Brazil, Webber’s hopes were high.

“I thought this is going to be brilliant, this is going to be unreal. I was doing long runs at Barcelona at what was pretty much qualifying laps in the Jaguar, give or take a few tenths.

“The car was so soft on its tyres, it had a truckload of horsepower with the BMW, the aerodynamics of the car were pretty stable, the software electronics were really dialled in with all engine braking. The car was awesome.

“Then out came the new one… and she was a lemon.”

He puts the problems down to “Mainly aero, there were a few little regulation changes. The first test we did everybody just looked at each other, and went ‘We are in serious strife here, this thing’s doing nothing.’ It had no grip.”

Webber is, though, complimentary about the “extraordinary” BMW engine. “The torque – traction control was around then, so we could play a lot with systems and software on how to deploy that type of power.

First of 42 podiums came at Monaco in 2005
“The engine kept pulling where the Cosworth was a bit peakier. We just had a lot more grunt in the bottom part of the RPM range. So, a very, very spectacular engine.”

But with BMW poised to end their relationship with Williams, having bought Sauber for 2006, Webber suspects their engines were dialled back. “Probably the best of the BM days were when they were at the front, and they peeled back a little to not have any tricky PR in their last season [with Williams] for no real good use.”

Clearly Webber expected more from the season than a single, debut podium appearance at Monaco. However if the FW28 was a disappointment, its Cosworth-powered FW29 successor proved worse in 2006.

“Cosworth was convenient in terms the UK and British brand, that was the big pitch, and certainly they could produce some good power which they did,” says Webber. “But the car was the Achilles Heel, the performance was not good.

Exhaust failure ended his victory hopes the following year
“We had even simple things like diffusers touching [the ground] in high-G corners. We were exploding inside shoulders on tyres, things like that which was just unreal.

“The gearbox was not reliable – we had a problem behind the Safety Car in Melbourne when on course for a good result potentially, and the gearbox wasn’t syncing.

“I remember mowing the lawn and thinking, ‘It’s not going well; it’s time I’ve got to make a decision. Go to Red Bull, which was actually the only option.’”

Red Bull-Renault RB3-RB9 (2007-13)

Webber became a Formula 1 grand prix winner in the RB5 at the Nurburgring in 2009

Webber’s tenure with Red Bull established him as a regular grand prix winner, with classifications of fourth place and three thirds during his seven years with the (developing) team attesting to his consistency in their Adrian Newey-designed cars. Newey’s first ‘proper’ Red Bull was the RB3, powered by Renault after swapping its Ferrari engines with sister team Toro Rosso.

Reliability was a weakness of earlier Red Bulls
“It was so, so good that [Red Bull owner] Dietrich Mateschitz – and Adrian from what I hear – was a little bit keen to give me a run,” says Webber. “That worked out well and off we went.”

The RB3 proved fast but initially fragile – Webber and team-mate David Coulthard each retired seven times in 17 races. But it came good towards the end of the season, rewarding Webber with a podium at the Nürburgring and the lead at Fuji before being punted out by future team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Clearly, though, Newey was still getting to grips in Milton Keynes after stellar years at Williams and McLaren.

The RB4 suffered an initial run of suspension failures for both drivers, and I recall a typical Webberism when I asked him about fragility in Melbourne: “Mate, if we were building aeroplanes I’d be fucked…”

Tall Webber found Newey’s chassis a tight fit
The quote is still valid, he says during this interview: “I think at the time Adrian was pushing the boundaries, he had a bit of a tricky run.

“I was a friggin’ nightmare for Adrian, I was too tall, he hated the size of me, but he got me in [the team] and I’m forever thankful he made an effort to get me comfortable.”

Webber says the [hip] area, not footwell or elbow room, was his biggest squeeze, leading to “nervous moments in January” when the FIA’s exit tests were performed.

“There was no question about it, in the last three or four years I was extremely comfortable in the car and had no issues, and that shows that if you’re been with a team for a while, it’s a big win. That’s something which people on the outside don’t see – it’s good for the cockpit, the ergonomics, and the [car] environment.”

Red Bull were quick from the off in 2009
The 2009 season brought the RB5 and a return to slick tyres in place of grooved rubber. It also brought a new team mate in the shape of Sebastian Vettel.

The beginning of the season was shaped by an argument over ‘double diffusers’, introduced by rivals Brawn among others. By May Red Bull introduced its own trick diffuser, which made a world of difference, says Webber.

“There was just so much so much grip in the rear of the car [with it]. A grand prix car is by its nature unstable in the rear generally in terms of the power and especially with no traction control, whatever you could do to calm the rear down and then jam a front load full of downforce onto it to balance it, then the stopwatch is going to love it.

Webber and Alonso were beaten to 2010 title by Vettel
“It was a good Formula 1 regulation,” he grins, “the cars were quick, refuelling kicked off even though qualifying was a joke with no way of knowing fuel loads. And of course [it brought] my first victory, which is important to any Formula 1 driver’s career and it was a great cup.”

That breakthrough victory was vintage Webber, as he charged to the front at the Nurburgring despite a penalty for contact with Rubens Barrichello at the start. But Vettel had already taken his first win a few months earlier, and the rapid ascent of the team’s junior driver prompted claims of favouritism.

“I think at that time we were trying to get to the front, still just developing the car, whatever we thought was best to whoever was the quickest, and at that time there was nothing between us,” said Webber. “Until, obviously, [his] first championship.” That came in 2010.

He took the RB7 to victory once in 2011, at Interlagos
“The youngest world champion was important for Red Bull, so once that was done then it became very challenging inside there after that.”

The RB6 commenced a four-year unbeaten run for the team in both championships, Vettel taking the drivers’ title each time. During a period of relative stability in the regulations, Red Bull and engine supplier Renault were first to exploit the potential of using exhaust gasses to enhance the power of the car’s diffuser.

“The blown diffuser was very much linked to the [strong] partnership with Renault because obviously we need to use the [exhaust] plume to stimulate the diffuser,” Webber explains. “Whether it was hot air, which we’d have sometimes fuel going in, or it was just the engine running, just open with the throttles open [no ignition] and cold air going through, still a plume going through.”

But Webber admits Vettel mastered the driving technique necessary to extract the most from this phase in the development of four successive and similar cars.

Webber won twice from pole on the streets of Monaco
“When we got that right, obviously Sebastian enjoyed it more than I did,” he says. “It was a very special piece of kit.

“We used more fuel, obviously, exhaust temperatures were through the roof and the exhaust would be exploding. Then you would link that to your front wing angle depending on how much you’re going to be cranking rear the floor. To put that whole jigsaw together was good fun.”

Thereafter “the cars just kept moving along”, the 2011-2013 cars (RB7-9) being evolutions of what went before or an optimised adaptation where (minimal) regulation changes ahead of F1’s switch to the hybrid formula meant adaptation.

That changeover prompted his switch from F1 to the World Endurance Championship, where he won the title with Porsche in 2015. Looking back, he believes he timed the decision well.

“It was my last year, but I still managed to get a couple of poles. I was very, very happy to be on the podium with Fernando and savour my last race and get the fastest lap.

“So it was good timing. It’s very easy to screw the timing up and be there too be long…”

Webber called time on his Formula 1 career as the V8 era came to an end

Go ad-free for just £1 per month

>> Find out more and sign up

My F1 Cars

Browse all My F1 Cars articles

Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

35 comments on “My F1 Cars: Webber’s route from ‘pain in the ass’ Minardi to all-conquering Red Bull”

  1. Was Mark Webber the Valtteri Bottas of his era?

    Despite driving a car that dominated the sport for several years he never finished higher than 3rd, even dipping as low as 6th in a year when his teammate finished 1st.

    1. Webber got pretty close to winning the championship in 2010, something Bottas has never really done.
      Obviously their teammates were different as well: Vettel going for his first championship while Hamilton was already a legend when Bottas joined the team

      1. I think Webber’s alpha-male, Ozzie demeanour probably means he gets more respect than he deserves.

        Statistically he was trounced by his teammate despite joining Red Bull a few years earlier than Seb.

        I’ve always liked Webber as a “bloke” but hindsight does put his performance into perspective.

        1. @sonnycrockett Webber outscored every one of his team-mates in F1 except Wurz (7-3 DNF’s) and Vettel (in his prime). That says a lot on its own, since they are the only one to accurately compare with.
          @paeschli and @come-on-kubica explain other reasons. F1 was quite a bit closer and less consistent then than it is now.

        2. webber held himself pretty well. look at Button instead.

    2. Yes (@come-on-kubica)
      27th April 2021, 14:45

      I wouldn’t say so. The red bull wasn’t as all conquering as the Mercedes have been. The reliability was worse and he just wasn’t as comfortable as vettel. If it wasn’t on pole position the red bull wasn’t great in traffic and a more condensed field made it harder to make progress. No 20 second gaps for the first pit stop and into clean air there were always cars running long. Though Mark will always look at 2010 as a massive bottle job.

      Bottas has never been in contention in any year for the title either. His best year was his first when he should have been leading the mid way point if it was for rotten luck ie puncture at Baku towards the end while leading the race. Ironically Vettel made an awful mistake in that race as well.

      1. You’re right re: reliability but that was the same throughout the field. McLaren had the fastest car for periods of Red Bull’s domination but couldn’t get consistent results.

        In the end, Vettel and Webber had the same machinery and were teammates for long enough for “luck” to average out. Never finishing a championship better than 3rd when the guy in the garage next to you is winning is not a good look!

      2. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        27th April 2021, 19:57

        @come-on-kubica

        Not quite sure i follow what you mean regarding Bottas. What do you mean by saying his best year was his first? Do you mean 2017? If so then it was the following year that he had the puncture in Baku.

        Speaking of that year, 2018 was probably his worst season, although you could argue that he had his strongest point of consistency looking better than Hamilton, as he actually looked the better of the two 3 races in a row – Bahrain, China and Baku. But if we factor in how awful he was in the first race that season (Australia) and how bad he was in the 2nd half of 2018, it was overall a pretty poor season and he was better in the other 3.

        His first was the best points wise and given Ferrari looked close to matched, i think 3rd in the standings was reasonable, especially for his first season and given Vettel was still very good then. I would say that 2019 was Bottas’s best season though and he noticeably wasn’t as good as that last year.

        It wouldn’t have taken much however in 2017 for Bottas to have still been right up in the mix. If you literally swap the retirement for Bottas in spain with hamilton, then the end of season results for the top 3 will have been like this:

        Hamilton: 338
        Vettel: 324
        Bottas: 323

        All within 15 points. And if Hamilton had had just little more bad luck (still not to the extent of 2016 that allowed Rosberg to be WDC), Bottas actually could have been WDC himself that year. Luck plays a part, but it even though Bottas likely wouldn’t be in contention for the title anyway, he does seem to have much worse luck than Hamilton every year.

        1. @thegianthogweed why would you want to “swap retirement for Bottas in Spain with Hamilton”? Given what happened in Mexico that was almost as good as a retirement anyway, netting only two points for Hamilton while Bottas finished further up thanks to that. No need to swap anything.
          Instead give Bottas 15 points extra for Spain and Hamilton 16 for Mexico. That way you have evened up for bad luck for both in those races. Guess what, the gap widens.

          1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            28th April 2021, 20:51

            I was factoring the mechanical DNFs, or you likely could find more things for both drivers that didn’t help luck wise.

          2. @thegianthogweed a mechanical DNF for Bottas in Spain was just as unlucky as Hamilton being hit by Vettel in Mexico. You can’t just cherry pick certain kinds of bad luck to then make it seem like Bottas had more of it and if he hadn’t he would’ve been in the title mix.

          3. @thegianthogweed digging in a bit deeper to see who had bad luck in 2017, I arrived at the following.

            Hamilton:
            – Azerbaijan, lost 15 points
            – Austria, grid penalty, given qualifying speed let’s say he loses 3
            – Mexico: hit by Vettel, loses 16

            Bottas:
            – Spain, lost 15 points
            – Japan, grid penalty, given qualifying speed let’s say he loses 6

            You’re welcome to add, but the notion that “Bottas seems to have much worse luck than Hamilton every year” doesn’t seem to be valid at all for 2017, instead the opposite being true. So correcting for bad luck the gap widens to 71 points.
            I think you are focusing on Bottas too much and remembering his bad luck mostly, while not doing the same for Hamilton. That’s not really fair.

          4. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
            29th April 2021, 10:09

            Well you please read what i said. I am fully aware hamilton had other aspects of bad luck, but I commented that i was talking about mechanical DNFs, and that is the area I am pointing out that Bottas does always seem to have worse luck than Hamilton every year other than 2018 where Hamilton had his only mechanical retirement since Bottas joined.

            That is why i said in my comment that you seem to have ignored that you likely could find more things for both drivers if you were on about bad luck in general.

            Yes I went overboard with this, but what I’m saying is that only changing one thing (just one mechanical DNF which is only a small change) would have got the result far closer.

    3. Considering he was in a field that consisted of a prime Alonso in a bulletproof Ferrari, Hamilton in a regularly just as quick McLaren and a Renault/Lotus team that was often threatening podiums – let alone his younger, more naturally talented (his own words) and preferred team mate, I think he did pretty well.

      Some of his wheel-to-wheel racing against Fernando was just sublime.

    4. Webber was also driving in a time when other teams could win the championship as well. First the Mclarens and then the Ferraris could take points off Webber more then than anyone has been close to the Mercs in this era.

    5. @sonnycrockett As a Webber fan (see avatar), you’d expect me to say “not at all”. And that’s what I’ll say: not at all.

      But my argument, fan-stuff aside, is that Webber pushed Vettel harder than Bottas pushes Hamilton. If we were to compare him with someone, I’d say he’s more of a Rosberg in his relationship with Hamilton: not as good, but managed to get in the way, and tried everything, whatever it costed, to beat him. The difference with him and Rosberg is that Rosberg got lucky that his battles with Hamilton happened when no one else could even fight for wins. Webber fought during arguably the most competitive fields we’ve seen in the last 2 decades or so. Remember 2010 and 2012 the championships were incredibly tight, with Renault/Lotus, McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari all battling Red Bull on merit, and sometimes beating them.

      1. Concur. Great redux article DR.

    6. Yes, he most certainly was. One of the most mediocre drivers ever. Not very skilled either given he made Vettel look good. Still 1000% better than I am at racing.

      1. This is one of the most ill-informed comments I’ve ever read on this site.

  2. Great article. The early Benetton adventures reminded me of the first time I saw an F1 car live. 1st December 2000, the day the old winter testing ban was lifted. Silverstone. I can’t remember any other cars at that test than Webber’s Benetton. Unlike today, it was an open paddock. We wandered around and asked a Benetton mechanic for Webber’s autograph. Later in the day he brought it over himself. I think it was his first time in the car.

    I know it was expensive for teams but I really miss testing. It was free for fans – which at the time was all my family could afford. Getting up close to the cars on a cold wet December day at Silverstone… what else could you want!?

    1. Here’s a pic from that test: https://cdn-2.latimages.com/images/mgl/bgB0r/s3/open-uri20121024-3827-tu8nhl.jpg

      Is it me or does that helmet just work in that car?!

      1. His helmet design never really changed much throughout his entire racing career, either. Pretty rare, these days.

        And look at the gorgeous simplicity and (lack of) size of the cars then.
        THAT was F1. Small, light and ridiculously powerful cars with a great soundtrack.

        Such a shame to see what F1 has become since.

  3. Love these “My F1 Cars” specials. Always an excellent read and learning the inside story of the cars traits and challenges is most informative. Keep it up!

  4. Great article. I wonder though in the following paragraph whether the [team] should actually be [car]. @dieterrencken
    “I was a friggin’ nightmare for Adrian, I was too tall, he hated the size of me, but he got me in [the team] and I’m forever thankful he made an effort to get me comfortable.”

  5. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
    27th April 2021, 16:29

    Thoroughly enjoyed this article. Great stuff.

  6. Massive repent for tais touche blonde. From his Minardi debut to his first grand prix win, crying joy, to his retirement lap helmet-off. I will always remember his Korea crash that resulted in no further championship contention and the multi-21-seb.

    Thank you bad-start-nutcase-Webber.

    1. *Massive respect for this tough bloke.

      french corrector ^^

    2. @jeff1s I almost cried when he dropped that wheel in Korea. I knew right there that mistake lost him the championship. I was devastated; couldn’t believe my eyes.

  7. Great article. I was a fan of Webber during his Red Bull era, I think he had the quality to deserve a single world championship in the manner of Rosberg. But, hard as it is to admit, he was significantly outperformed in 2010 (Vettel twice retires whilst leading, and once ends up third due to mechanical issues when leading, plus got a very severe penalty in Hungary for doing little wrong) and then never really mounted a challenge for the championship which lasted beyond midseason. I really do not rate Vettel that highly but really had the edge during their years together.

    1. You’ve gotta be kidding if you think Webber was significantly outperformed by Vettel in 2010. Red Bull used all the tricks in the book to disadvantage Webber subversively in 2010, much like Ferrari did to Charles Leclerc in 2019. The pitstop timing in the wet in Melbourne where they screwed over Webber to advantage Vettel is just one example. Webber also mounted a very good title challenge in 2012 – ahead of Vettel until after the summer break. Similar in 2009. Both those years reliability issues in qualifying and the race hurt Webber after the break. Although Vettel’s efforts in qualifying were exceptional.

      James Allen wrote an excellent article about how the team were so-so when Webber won his first GP, and were over the moon whenever Vettel won. Just like Ferrari in 2019, there was a clear number one – and it was Sebastian Vettel. We saw how much faster Leclerc had to be than Vettel to outscore him in 2019. If Leclerc was the same pace as Vettel he would have barely got half the points Vettel had. And we saw in 2020 when Vettel gets No.2 treatment exactly what happens.

      Ultimately Webber was too loyal to Red Bull, and he was not savvy enough to notice some of the subversive ways he was being disadvantaged. Whereas Ricciardo was savvy, and would question every pitstop, every tire choice. Seriously, the amount of skullduggery Webber had to deal with was immense. The Spanish GP one year, they put him on a short stint (which was already a questionable decision) on his brand new set of tyres, and put him on a long stint on a scrubbed set. It was baffling – but we saw similar antics from Ferrari in 2019 as they also used subversive tactics to disadvantage Leclerc and advantage Vettel. Then conversely in 2020 disadvantaged Vettel.

      1. I recently rewatched the entirety of the 2010 season, largely with the motive of seeing how Webber was cheated out of the world championship. I came away thinking he dropped the ball too many times, and felt I was clouded back in the day by my dislike of Vettel. For example, imagine Webber was in second position each of three times Vettel lost the lead through reliability, or the time he got the penalty in Hungary. I mean, Webber could have been on 50 point to Vettel on 0 at the end of round two. In reality, he was no closer than third place in all those four instances. I did not detect those instances you mentioned, and will look out for them if I rewatch 2010 again, but I am unsure they compensate for Vettel losing 60 points through reliability and another 10 in Hungary through a very minor error. As for 2012, I look forward to watching that again when all the races are uploaded to F1TV. From memory, I was very excited for Webber post Silverstone (I think he was leading the championship) and then felt a fairly regular sense of disappointment from then onwards.

        1. Thanks for your thoughts Sam. I wish I had have taken detailed notes sometimes. Because I watched all those races with live timing, so could see the performance of the tyre wear really easily.

          I remember even experts were thinking Button was way better than Barrichello in 2009, until I deconstructed that season, and showed Button was only marginally better, but had crucial No.1 status. Barrichello got screwed over really badly in Spain, and although it was obvious to a mathematician such as myself, the media weren’t as quick to pick up. I did a very detailed post on that, on a now defunct forum. Some journalists used my points.

          So, in regards to 2010, I’m in disagreement with you. The first race Webber was very quick, he just had a bad quali. Overtaking was nigh on impossible. It meant the odds on Webber winning the title after that first race were about 50-1. Stupid odds, but shows you how underrated Webber was throughout his career. The second race was Australia, Webber would’ve been in a great position to win if Red Bull had not delayed his pit stop in order to allow Vettel the advantage. It cost Webber around half a minute, maybe more.

          Vettel found out in 2020 how tough it is when he was treated almost as badly as Red Bull treated Webber.

  8. I’m surprised he has not talked more about tyres, besides remarking how (obviously) great the michelin were and chewing Bridgestones.

  9. Thoroughly enjoying read! Thanks Dieter, thanks Racefans for another top interview in this series.

  10. This is such a fantastic article! I hope there are more to come! Would love to hear from Jean Alesi from example to hear about what he thought of those Tyrell’s he initially drove, what was the issues with the Ferrari’s he drove and was the Benetton he drove in 96 and 97 really that bad?

    Reply moderated

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.