Mark has spent six weeks in Australia over the winter – his longest uninterrupted stint Down Under since the start of his Formula One career in 2002. On his return to Europe for winter testing in February, he gives us his thoughts.
Mark, you’ve managed to avoid most of the European winter this year. How have the last few weeks in Australia been for you?
“I had an incredible time in the southern hemisphere over the past couple of months, enjoying the endless sun on my back and catching up with family and friends. The beach lifestyle on my doorstep in Noosa in Queensland is just perfect for recharging the energy levels, particularly when I’m on the water, taking my surf ski or surfboard out. It’s you and the elements. It’s a relaxing and rewarding challenge/hobby for me and it’s a great way to switch off over the holiday.
“I was also fortunate enough to be in one of the first places in the world to welcome in 2013 as we spent a few days on Laucala in Fiji which is an exclusive island resort owned by Dietrich Mateschitz. He’s been telling me to go for a few years now and I can see why! He’s done an amazing job capturing and maintaining the sheer beauty and nature of a South Pacific island while creating a resort that is escapism at its best; it’s probably the most idyllic place I’ve ever been to.
“As many of you will know, Australia has been hit by some freak weather over the past month or so. First up, we were sweltering under a heat wave with temperatures nudging 45c in some parts of the country. That meant it was a particularly challenging few weeks for Australian fire-fighters as the extreme temperatures combined with high winds fuelled bush fires across large parts of Australia with many tragedies and sad stories emerging. But without the courageous work of the fire-fighters, even more would have been at risk throughout the country. And then, in the last few days since I’ve been back in the UK, Queensland has been smashed by the tail end of a tropical cyclone which has caused a lot of damage to property, flooding throughout the state and sadly three deaths. Australia is a beautiful yet harsh country and Mother Nature constantly reminds us who’s boss.”
How much of a relief is it to have removed the rod from your leg, and how long have you been able to train normally since the operation on 06 December?
“I had the final procedure on my right leg at the start of December to remove the remaining piece of metalwork, a 40cm titanium rod. The surgery went very smoothly and my recovery was exceptional. I had a few weeks off from my normal training schedule but I was able to ease myself back into it by the first week of January and now I’m back into it properly. I didn’t really know what to expect from having it removed, apart from my own peace of mind, but I’m very happy that some of the niggles and pain I’ve sometimes experienced with my training over the past three years already seem to be a thing of the past.”
The Swisse Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge was more successful than ever in 2012. How challenging was the route and how proud does the event’s success make you feel?
“I love being present for the event and the 2012 Challenge was the best yet. The depth of athletes we had was amazing as was the weather which was the icing on the cake in terms of us being able to capture the very best Tasmania has to offer. We had some un-seasonally hot days out on the course which added to the mental and physical challenge for everyone. I always derive a lot of satisfaction from seeing people complete the event and the emotions that run through them having successfully conquer something they were so intimidated by earlier in the week. It shouldn’t be long before the Challenge documentary goes to air, so keep your eyes peeled for it although sadly some of the recent bushfires affected some of the areas we covered.”
In a recent interview with the Red Bulletin, Helmut Marko criticised elements of your driving and appears to have cast aspersions on your character. What’s your reaction to his comments?
“Look, everyone at this level has their own agendas and it’s been evident for a long time now that I’ve never been a part of Marko’s.”
Looking ahead to the 2013 season, what are your expectations?
“I’m sure we’ve got another exciting and challenging season ahead, and it’ll be interesting to see who comes out of the gates strongly; you might get an inkling from pre-season testing to the form book but it’s only when we arrive in Melbourne for the first race that the gloves really come off. I’m certainly looking forward to getting my hands on the RB9 and I also have a new race engineer in Simon Rennie. It’s going to be important to have a solid pre-season with him after spending some six years with Ciaron Pilbeam who I had a long and enjoyable relationship with, but he’s no longer with the team. I’m looking forward to starting the season in Australia having prepared very well for it over the past two months. But it’s clear there’s no point getting too far ahead of yourself, so it’s a case of taking each week, test and race as it comes.”
Jill and Brianon January 29, 2013 Reply
Hi Mark, loved the Q and A. As for Helmut Marko he’s a disgrace does’nt deserve to breath the same air as you. Go kick some ass mate. Good luck for the new season, your the next F1 World Champion. All the best Mark.
Craigon January 29, 2013 Reply
Time to show Helmut, he’s a proper helmet this year & blow the bloody doors of 2013!
Owenon January 29, 2013 Reply
Regarding Marko’s comments – I can’t see why he thinks you’re not competitive enough. I think your F1 history shows the exact opposite. You were nearly WDC in 2010 – how can you compete in a sport like F1 at that level and not have the competetiveness required. The man’s a fool.
Joshuaon January 30, 2013 Reply
HI Mark. Keep up the good work and racing Vettel Hard. Well done for not falling into a war of words with Marko, what a silly silly man. Cant wait to see you and the other drivers at silverstone again this year. Really hope you can make it on to the three times winner list at this iconic track. Best wishes – Joshua (UK)
Humble Pieon January 30, 2013 Reply
Jill and Brian, MW as the next F1 WDC? Oh my, and pigs might fly backwards…
As for Marko, well he should not have said what he said publically however his alleged stats do add up.
Mark has won 2.25 gp’s on average per season since 2009 to present. That is 9 in total on the back of having had, on average, the most superior car over that four years. Vettel proves this with 3 WDC’s and 1 Runner Up on the back of 25 wins and 35 poles.
In 2013, MW might have a 5th year enjoying a Newey designed WDC challenging car and only now might enter double digit career wins. What a waste of opportunity.
Mark Webber Site Manageron January 30, 2013 Reply
That’s the problem actually – I’m afraid you don’t have the inside stats and facts…
Martinon January 30, 2013 Reply
Well done for not lowering yourself to Marko’s level Mark, what a stupid thing to say. Maybe he is a spy from Ferrari and his job is to demotivate half the team!
His comments I find really strange, perhaps he didn’t reckon on your mental strength.
Best of luck for 2013.
David Bruceon January 30, 2013 Reply
A great and competitive driver first. No 1 ambassador for the sport. Simply the best.
Ignore the rest
Paul Bravoon January 30, 2013 Reply
Mark has done a creditable job in taking victory as many times as he has in a car that has clearly been designed with someone else in mind. He is a grafter and a gentleman without a trace of BS. Good luck in ’13, MW!
Matthewon January 30, 2013 Reply
In response to Helmut Marko, I’d say ‘Bet Vettel could never get a 5th place on his debut driving the worst car on the grid.’
Great memories of that Australia 2002 race. Over 10 years ago now, time sure flies huh? Hope you aren’t feeling your age now that we’ve lost Pedro and Schumi. Good Luck and all the best for this year!
trevoron January 30, 2013 Reply
firstly, marko’s comments were shocking and should never have been made public. for a senior chief to criticise a significant member of your own team is inexcusable.
secondly, from what we – the f1 fans – see of you, you always present yourself very well….willing to talk to the media, with sensible, meaningful words that we understand.
i speak for many i’m sure when i say i hope you have a good testing program and follow it up with a great, safe, racing season. we all want to see you get the better of seb!
“racing is life…the rest is just incidentals”!
Chrissie Hon January 30, 2013 Reply
Great interview Mark, honest as ever. All the best for 2013.
Antonioon January 30, 2013 Reply
Mark, You are curently one of the best people in the field. Go on and tell them on the tarmac the great driver you are.
All the best
Amateur Raceron January 30, 2013 Reply
Well put MW, and good reply above from site manager too. In a game where hundredths count, and the actions of hundreds contribute to them we on the outside can never know the real picture. On a brighter note, having had the chance to meet MW at this year’s Challenge I’m happy to report to those reading that he’s as friendly and straight up an Aussie as you’d hope. Well done Aussie Grit, we’re all rooting for a great 2013.
Malcolmon January 30, 2013 Reply
Lets not give any wings to the froth and bubbles from unusual prople within the team who run strange agendas. mark you always show the level headed honest attitude essential in your business. All the best for the 2013 season – I feel you will do well.
Feralon January 30, 2013 Reply
All the best for 2013 Mark
Benon January 30, 2013 Reply
To quote Wikipedia :
“Marko competed in several race series, including in 10 Formula One Grands Prix in 1971 and 1972, but scored no World Championship points”(READ AGAIN – NO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS !!)
Mark Webber : 10 years in F1, 9 GP Wins and 179 WDC points in 2012.
Let’s not forget that Marko did not make it easy for Lowndes in F3000 and was supposed to be helping the guy win.
How about Lowndes/Webber vs. Marko/Vettel at Bathurst ?
Duncanon January 30, 2013 Reply
Just a short note to say that if there was truly a ‘level playing field’ at Red Bull you would have been a lot closer to Seb than the team wanted. Keep up the good work and here’s hoping 2013 is THE YEAR.
PS I saw you at Noosa coming home from dinner walking up to the car park with Ann and some friends. Didn’ say anything just nodded and got one in return.
Peter M of Ozon January 30, 2013 Reply
Mark show your Aussie grit and let us hope that Red Bull can give you a car that is reliable all year. I am sure Marko has always been difficult but you always over come his attitude. Do it again only better. We are still cheering very loudly.
Humble Pieon January 30, 2013 Reply
Mark Webber Site Manager POSTED January 30th, 2013
“That’s the problem actually – I’m afraid you don’t have the inside stats and facts…”
Perhaps… But one would assume that Marko has the “inside stats and facts”.
Anyhow, good luck on 2013. I know you will be epic at 2 or 3 gp’s. My money is on you for Monte Carlo for sure.
Garyon January 30, 2013 Reply
Hi Mark , im really glad you have had a good preseason , i have followed your career since the beginning and stayed up late so many times i want you to trust yourself that you will win the world championship , nobody knows who will win this years world championship yet !!! , but i have a feeling if mark webber wins the australian grand prix this year he will go on to win the 2013 world drivers championship and enter the hall of fame !!!
Slugg79on January 30, 2013 Reply
Marko is nothing but a fool trying to cause trouble and a rift in the team, and help strengthen his boy Seb’s position as ‘the number one driver’.
What’s more disappointing than the comments from Marko, are a) the lack of communication from the rest of Red Bull (Dietrich and Christian) dismissing the comments and b) the fact that Marko has not been reprimanded for these comments.
When Mark has previously made comments about the team which they haven’t liked, he’s been asked to rectify the situation, but not Marko. Plus we’ve had to wait for a response from Mark, most likely after legal have approved it.
Disappointing start to 2013 from the puppet-master at Red Bull!
Jordan Whissonon January 30, 2013 Reply
Hi, Mark have a great year,as you know you have nothing to prove to any-body but your self. You are a proven winner at the highest level.
You need to be a little selfish (in a emotionally decent manner ofcourse)and you will be fine.Keep up the good work your a great Aussie, most important, keep smiling mate. Yours Jordan.
NATALIAon January 30, 2013 Reply
Welcome back! eager to see in barcelona practices, I wish you the best for this season, we’ll see if the year 13 gives you good luck!
Robbieon January 30, 2013 Reply
first of all , con grats to mark is showing the world australia has some of the best race car drivers around , the difference between mark and seb is that marks worked hard and thought even harder ,seb has had everything handed to him on a plate and the fact that schumi had some help in that mark has made the red bull team to who they are now whether the inside stats show vettel is better but vettel is number 1 gets priority over mark , mark races with the hand me downs as still is very tough and fast on the track ,
i,ve enjoyed over the years watchin you race win and crash mark ur a true blue aussie keep up the work , i no in all our hearts u are a world champion driver
John Jenkinson January 30, 2013 Reply
Hi Mark. H.Marko is an idiot,he should keep his thoughts to himself. Go get ’em Mark!!
Peter Bentleyon January 31, 2013 Reply
Hi Mark, all the best for the coming season, i saw you in the Woolpack in Aylesbury with Sir Jackie a couple of sundays ago, wanted to say hi, but didnt’t want to interrupt, next time i might be braver !best of luck to you. . .
Paddock F1on January 31, 2013 Reply
I think Helmut Marko’s comments have some truth in them even if they were delivered in a scathing manner which was most uncalled for. However, what is undeniable is that Mark is a world class F1 driver who is capable of winning championships and I wish Mark the very best. Go Mark!!
Joon January 31, 2013 Reply
Don’t bother much about Marko’s comments.He’s just an old fool who doesn’t know much about racing.He can’t compete with your down to earth sportsmanship.Wish you all the very best in 2013, and I’m quite sure you’ll do very well too in 2013. Cheers Jo
Rudion January 31, 2013 Reply
Marko’s comments shows that he can’t compete with your down to earth personality and sportsmanship. You have the true spirit of a great racing driver, and your heart is at the right place. Wish you all the very best and many GP wins in 2013. You are a true Champion as a person as well as racing driver. Hopefully one day we’ll meet in a pub somewhere around the globe. Take care and wish you a very good health for 2013.
Borison February 1, 2013 Reply
I read in the aussie F1 magazine article about the Litmus test for gauge a potential world champion and that is a win in Monaco.
You’ve taken two “wins” in Monaco that fact speaks for itself.
All the best for 2013, we’ll see you on the top step of the podium.
Ameron February 1, 2013 Reply
Aussie Grit all the way for 2013 !!!
Susanon February 1, 2013 Reply
Mark ur a gr8 ambassador for F1 and Australia. Marko’s comments are not worth your energy and you responded with class and dignity. I look forward to seeing you achieve brilliant results in 2013 and hope to be present for a few of the races. Cheers
Dieter Winteron February 1, 2013 Reply
Hello Mark, keep the good work up. Keep it straight and dont let Martin Brundle come too close to your car this season. All the best for 2013….
Alanon February 1, 2013 Reply
Mark makes me proud to be Australian, good luck this season, looking forward to it !!!
Clemon February 2, 2013 Reply
As a Australian I get not tell you how happy and lucky to have been in Monte Carlo in 2010 and 2012 to see a true Ozzie sportsman win
All the very best of luck this year mate can’t think of anyone that does not deserve this years title
nickon March 3, 2013 Reply
Mark, hope you have some good races this season…. Get your name on more of the dhl fastest lap times too !