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GP Week : Issue 74
The Australians are fiercely proud. Proud of their national identity, their heritage and intensely proud of their sporting heroes. Mark Webber is no exception. Despite living in the UK since his career really took off in 1996, he remains a true Aussie sports fan. He likes nothing better than seeing the Poms taking a hiding in the Ashes or Casey Stoner succeed on track. And he reverts back to being a fan when given the opportunity -- and the Red Bull family has given him many such opportunities. His guests at races are other athletes backed by the energy drink company: motocross riders, MotoGP legends, Superbike heroes or top flight footballers. In Bahrain in the company of previous F1 Aussie legends, he wasn't just shaking the hands and having his picture taken with former Australian F1 champions Sir Jack Brabham and Alan Jones, he genuinely looked like he was privileged to be in their company. And this season, despite the sport's, the media's and arguably the team's spotlight shining on the 22-year-old Baby Schumi in the garage next to him, Webber is there with a stable set-up, a fast car and, albeit an outside one, a chance of being crowned world champion this year. Webber's success last season was hard- fought and hard-earned. This was the man remember who began the year on crutches with metal knitting together the shattered bones in his right leg and whose -- admitted slim - world championship hopes only ended on Lap 46 of the Singapore Grand Prix. Then, despite the practice session crash and failure to make it to Qualifying in Japan, during the race he had no chance of scoring points in, he worked on car set-up with his team as his team-mate sailed to victory. This work ethic paid off just a race later where he took a 28