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GP Week : Issue 196
Mark Webber certainly ‘made his mark’ in sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, the Australian bringing the curtain down on his Formula One career with a blistering drive to second behind Red Bull teammate sebastian Vettel. Webber is leaving Formula One after 12 years in the sport to spearhead Porsche’s factory-backed Le Mans effort, and if the straight-talking Aussie had been downplaying the significance of his retirement in the build-up to his swansong, it was clear his emotions had finally over whelmed him as he stepped into his Red Bull one last time on Sunday. “Fantastic career! It’s been brilliant working with you,” team principal Christian Horner said to Webber over the radio after he crossed the line. “You should be proud of everything you’ve done because we certainly are,” Horner added as the nine-time grand prix winner drove around on his slowing down lap with his helmet off, his emotions clearly visible as he wiped away a few tears. Webber was very much at the top of his game on Sunday as he lined up fourth on the grid and fought his way back up the order after his now customary slow start. He was beaten off the line by the fast-starting Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, dropping to fifth, but he soon got his own back on his British rival and set about reeling in the sister Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso. Webber got past Rosberg on lap 7 with a superb pass around the outside of the German under braking for the Senna S at the end of the start-finish straight before also disposing of Alonso, his old sparring partner, a few laps later to move up to second. A slow first stop dropped Webber back behind Alonso but, undeterred, he fought back and for the second time found his way past the feisty Spaniard who, with the aid of the drag reduction system, clung on to the back of the Red Bull all the way down the back straight, the Ferrari hassling Webber through Turn Four and on the run up to the blind double-apex Ferradura corner. In the end, although he is heading off into the sunset after having competed in 215 grands prix, Webber showed he has lost none of his speed, signing off with the fastest lap of the race and third place in the drivers’ championship. “It was a very good finish to my career,” Webber said on the podium. “A good fight with all the guys I enjoyed fighting with for most of my career: Seb, Fernando, Lewis, Nico, all the guys which have been in the window for the last five or six years.” The 37-year-old from Queanbeyan, who faced a tough slog in his early years as he struggled to find the budget to fund his junior career and keep moving up the motorsport ladder, also paid tribute to all those who had supported him throughout his motorsport career. “I want to thank everyone in Australia; I wouldn’t be here where I am without the support I had in the early days, and it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable career,” Webber, who had been distributing farewell t-shirts with a ‘made my mark’ hashtag on the front and a ‘215 declared’ hashtag at the back to select members of the paddock, said. #MADEMYMARK 27 GPWEEK.com // 27 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> BRAZIL