Watch him fly at Hockenheim
AUSTRALIAN Mark Webber enters this weekend’s German GP equal with Spain’s dual world champ Fernando Alonso on season victories (two each) and virtually equal with Alonso on world championship points. Yet Webber’s title chase fails to excite local sports fans in quite the manner of, say, bike hero Cadel Evans and his pursuit of a second Tour de France win.
Part of this might be lack of awareness of how impressive has been Webber’s F1 career. He’s scored more podium finishes and pole positions than our previous world champ, Alan Jones, plus an equal number of fastest laps and just three fewer wins. Webber’s numbers add up.
Part of it might be due to perceptions of him as a complainer. This seems a little unfair, yet understandable — F1 is a complicated team sport in which drivers carry the weight of press attention, invariably obliged to try to explain technical or tactical errors. It can definitely look a little complainy, especially to those who don’t appreciate F1’s infinite galaxy of high-speed variables. These guys aren’t exactly taking penalties against blindfolded keepers.
When pure driver error or underperformance are involved, Webber is usually direct and honest. Many rivals aren’t keen on admitting fault.
Additionally, Webber alienated many local journalists two years ago when he rightly criticised our nannystate driving regulations. Some took a set against the Queanbeyan boy.
For the rest of us, Webber’s 2012 season is a revelation. Stomped by teammate Sebastian Vettel in 2011, at 35 Webber is demonstrating renewed speed and precision. Watch him fly at Hockenheim, the scene of Jones’s first Williams win in 1979.
Webber gets air: Another podium finish, at Silverstone earlier this month