Won­ders of team Web­ber

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

IT’S been less than six months since Mark Web­ber told me he would win his first grand prix this year. Fore­cast­ing a win was a big call for a bloke who doesn’t like to pump up his own tyres, but Web­ber was al­ways con­fi­dent the Red Bull RB5 was a winning car.

And now he’s done it. And in ab­so­lutely dom­i­nant style.

Web­ber’s win in the Ger­man Grand Prix re­minded me a lot of Michael Schu­macher, his For­mula One role model. He qual­i­fied on pole po­si­tion, biffed Rubens Bar­richello on the run to the first cor­ner, then re­cov­ered from a ste­wards’ penalty to out­drive his ri­vals with speed, skill and com­mit­ment.

It was typ­i­cal of the drive and tal­ent that has taken Web­ber to the top of global motorsport, and the wild ride from For­mula Ford in Aus­tralia to the top step of the podium.

I’ve been a Web­ber fan for many years and have many great mem­o­ries of time with the bloke — like hot-lap­ping at Calder Park in a Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR sports pro­to­type. There are plenty of oth­ers.

But in this mem­o­rable week for Web­ber-ma­nia it’s worth men­tion­ing a few, and talk­ing about their com­mit­ment. First, there is Ann Neal. She is Web­ber’s long-term part­ner and has been the pow­er­house for the whole project. The im­pact of his first win hit me on Sun­day night when Ann, who al­ways stays in the back­ground, stood be­low the podium.

Ann had to be forced to go by David Coulthard, but ad­mits it was some­thing she had to do.

Dad Alan Web­ber needed no push­ing to stand in the cheer­ing crowd, and his wet eyes re­flected his emo­tion. I can also re­mem­ber many, many other times when Web­ber Sr has been there for his son — even watch­ing him mow the lawn at their house in Bri­tain.

And he’s a real motorsport en­thu­si­ast, too, who can tell you who among the young Aussies is worth watch­ing.

Ge­off ‘‘Joffa’’ Dono­hue met Web­ber when he was work­ing for one of his spon­sors, Yel­low Pages, and now he is part of the team and the man be­hind the Tas­ma­nian sport­ing chal­lenge. He is a rip­per bloke who has done ev­ery­thing he can to help his hero make it to the top.

Then there is motorsport pub­lisher Chris Lamb­den. He was one of the ear­li­est sign-ups for the Web­ber train and has sac­ri­ficed many years of For­mula One tip­ping chances by push­ing his man. When Web­ber drove an F1 car for the first time, Lamb­den paid his own way to be there.

There are count­less oth­ers who are part of the Web­ber team and it’s great that they were able to cel­e­brate this week.

But as Mark would say, Ger­many is done. It’s time to move on to the next suc­cess.

Pow­er­ful part­ners: Ger­man GP win­ner Mark Web­ber with Ann Neal.

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