Mark Webber Q&A – Off Season
For the first time in a while you didn’t go back to Australia but instead you spent Christmas in Europe. What have you been up to?
MW: “I was still quite busy for most of December, doing a fair bit of media, saying goodbye to everyone at the RBR factory and starting on my new programme with Porsche, so it really made sense to spend Christmas in the UK this time. I actually really enjoy northern hemisphere Christmases and all the build up to them. The festivities give it a very traditional feel; it’s hard to replicate that in Australia because Christmas falls in the heat of summer when most families head to the beach so it’s just very different. It was a shame in some ways we didn’t get any snow in England this Christmas as we had friends over from Australia but even so they enjoyed the frosty mornings and sitting in front of a roaring log fire in the evenings with a few glasses of red wine.
“Last year we were in Fiji for New Year; this time we went to Scotland to welcome 2014 in. I have to say Hogmanay was one of the best NYE’s I’ve experienced in terms of atmosphere, with everyone joining in and being super friendly. We took part in the traditional torchlight procession through the streets on the 30th – 35,000 people with probably half of them carrying flame-lit torches and walking 1.5kms through the city was just great fun. Then, for Hogmanay we went to the street party and concert and watched the fireworks over the castle which was amazing.”
Your new season with Porsche will start soon. In F1 the focus of your training was on the neck strength and being as light as possible, how does your training change for the sports car series?
MW: “This is my first season for probably five or six years when I haven’t needed to be on weight by February! Even though we will be doing some pre-season testing with Porsche, the preparation for F1 was different; I had to be on weight right from the start of pre-season testing and my weight control had to be extremely disciplined.
“But, don’t think for one moment I’m going to be overweight in sports cars! I’ll be back at my F1 weight for the start of the championship in April but the WEC season is much shorter with only eight races, so I don’t need to be in that tight weight window for as long as I was in F1. My training regime has changed a bit too; you do quite a lot of specific training for F1; for example, neck training to deal with the high G-forces whereas in sports cars because the lap times are a bit slower, I won’t quite have the load on the body that I used to. Of course, there are lots of things from my training in F1 which are completely adaptable in sports cars, i.e. heat control in hot environments as was the case at some races in Formula One so there are a lot of things I learnt in F1 which I will carry across.”
The races will last considerably longer for you now, how do you prepare for the endurance aspect?
MW: “The driving position is different to F1 cars, you’re laying down a lot more in an F1 car whereas in the sports car I am sitting a bit more upright. That means I’m using different muscles in my back, other muscles which I found out I need to use a little bit differently and muscles that I’m over trained for in the sports car. From an endurance aspect, the seating position has to be as comfortable as possible because I could do some very long stints. If I’m asked to do a three hour stint I need to make sure I’m not getting pins and needles or the back of my legs are falling asleep. I need to be comfortable in that environment but I also have to be mindful that I am sharing the car with other drivers so we have to compromise to a degree. We need to do quick pit stops and driver changes so we can’t afford to faff around making adjustments in the pits.
“In terms of the endurance I think that it will be more mentally than physically demanding. Concentration levels will be paramount, obviously in terms of passing backmarkers and things like that. Physically it will probably be less demanding than what I was used to but mentally it will be equally as demanding just because of the amount of traffic management you have to do for a long period of time.”
The first time you’ve been in the car was in December, how did you feel?
MW: “I was really pleasantly surprised. I went in there keeping my expectations low in terms of what the car might feel like. It’s a lot heavier than an F1 car and very light on downforce so I thought perhaps the car wouldn’t respond that well compared to what I’ve been used to. So I was really surprised, I knew within five or six laps that I was enjoying what I was doing which was great. I had Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish in my ears because they’ve been telling me for quite a few years that if I was thinking of making the shift to sports cars, they were still very nice cars to drive. I believed them but it’s not until you actually do it yourself that you find out just how nice they are. I hadn’t driven one since 1999.
“I did my first test on a circuit in Portugal which I hadn’t been to before, and it was a beautiful circuit to drive the car for the first time. It was very responsive and predictable. It’s nice to be back on the Michelin tyres too; I had a good feeling on them. It was the first test and obviously there is still work to do, you never stop learning but it was a nice start and I left there buzzing which was great.”
How would you describe the difference of today’s cars to when you last drove in 1999?
MW: “The biggest difference is that we didn’t have any electrical or hybrid systems on the cars back in the late 90s, it was more old-school racing. The gear stick was located away from the steering wheel and all sorts of things, whereas now the car is more like an F1 car but with a roof. They’re highly technically advanced these days and you can see there’s been a huge carry over from Formula One technology during the 2000s into this category. That’s why the cars are so quick and the closest category to F1 in terms of lap time and pace.”
What’s your schedule like in the upcoming weeks?
MW: “This year I’m having a bit of an offset break and a belated trip back to Australia. I’m looking forward to getting a bit of sun on my back, getting into the ocean and catching up with my family and friends. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to do some heli flying too and for the first time I’ll be attending the Australian Open grand slam in Melbourne which I’m really looking forward to.”
Santino Sirignanoon January 21, 2014 Reply
Will Mark be attending the first F1 race in Australia out of curiousity or does he have plans to attend some like Silverstone,Monaco etc? Thank you 🙂
kathyon January 21, 2014 Reply
Glad you enjoyed our Scottish hospitallity and had a great time.
Wishing you well for your future. 🙂
Mark leeon January 21, 2014 Reply
Will we ever see mark in a v8 supercar like bathurst. Thanks mark lee
Rexon January 21, 2014 Reply
Mate, thanks for sharing your thoughts and back here in OZ, we’re looking forward to seeing you here and who’s your pick for the tennis? Are you much of a player or is golf more your scene?
Peteon January 21, 2014 Reply
Really interesting insight into the off season Mark. Looking forwArd to cheering you on at Silverstone, Spa and Le Mans
Edebalion January 21, 2014 Reply
I hope you will be successful in sports cars. I will be keep on watching your races. Good luck.
Andy Tayloron January 21, 2014 Reply
Good to hear Mark sounding so positive and optomistic… Have a great season!
Damianon January 21, 2014 Reply
Wish you well in 2014. I hope we can watch some of your races here?
Cassandra Halletton January 21, 2014 Reply
What is the chance we will see you in a V8 Supercar at Bathurst (hopefully a Ford), in the future? Do you have any interest in competing in the great race? Love your work Mark. You’ve done Australia Proud Mate 😉
Anders Lundbergon January 21, 2014 Reply
Good luck with the new season Mark,flat out:)
Jill and Brianon January 21, 2014 Reply
Wishing you all the best for 2014 Mark, hope all you wish for comes true. Have a great time in Oz and we’ll see you back at Silverstone, we’ll be there, good luck Mark x
Gordonon January 22, 2014 Reply
It’s just great to read you are enjoying what you are now doing, what times do the races run for ?
Bobon January 22, 2014 Reply
All the best for the season Mark. My wife and I have been following your journey in F1 for years and we hope to be able to see your races in the WEC. We both think you’re a great Ambassador to Australia.
Chris Bowerson January 24, 2014 Reply
Good luck for the new season – I hope you enjoy the new car. I am sad you are not in f1 any more but I think you made the correct decision.
Diana Hon January 25, 2014 Reply
¡Que honor verte portar el traje que alguna vez usara mi compatriota Pedro Rodríguez de la Vega!, el fue campeón con Porsche en 1970 y 1971, al mando de ese indomable 917. ¡Ya me siento parte del equipo!. Good luck and greetings from Mexico.
tonyon January 27, 2014 Reply
love your outlook mate,good luck with the sports cars,wont be as many snakes there as f1
Jamieon January 28, 2014 Reply
What an incrediable career mark. You sure are a world champion to me. I’d love to see you settle in for some local challenges in the Australian V8 Supercar series.
Jasonon January 29, 2014 Reply
Met mark at the Australian open ! What a great bloke , good luck this year with Porsche !!
Lawrence Brickliffeon January 29, 2014 Reply
lots of luck for forthcoming season. Can you confirm that you are at Le Mans this year? We saw your 2 flips in Mercedes and were so glad you got away with them. Take care.
elenaon January 29, 2014 Reply
F1 won’t be the same without you Mark! We (I) will miss you very much. you have been such an example and are a great role model! all the best in your “new” racing career 🙂
Soniaon February 1, 2014 Reply
I wasn’t an F1 fan until my boyfriend introduced me to the sport a couple of years ago. I’ve really enjoyed watching you race since then and can’t help but think that you’re a stand up guy! 😀
We’ll definitely be keeping up with your races in the WEC. Best of luck!
Pattyon February 1, 2014 Reply
Looking forward to seeing you race in Austin, TX this year Mark. Hope you have a fantastic year with Porsche!
Brad eganon February 2, 2014 Reply
Look forward to following your new career. Have been loyal supporter through good times and bad times. Good luck.
DJon February 3, 2014 Reply
Hi Mark, I have followed your racing career ever since the formula ford days in Aust. I had planned to go to a few F1 races and watch you. However was not able to manage it. I have watched every one of your F1 races live on TV. I have never missed one race. I hope they televise the WEC races as I would like to watch everyone. Mark go win Le Mans and show them what you really got. All the best for the season, go get em.
bruceon February 4, 2014 Reply
Another year and another race season, if not slightly different all the best for the coming races, Mark.
Pat Goughon February 6, 2014 Reply
MARK I HAVE FOLLOWED YOUR PROGRESS IN F1 SO WILL BE FOLLOWING YOU WITH PORSCHE YOU ARE A GREAT ROLE MODEL AND LOVELY GUY WISHING YOU A GREAT CAREER IN SPORTS CARS
waynejohn.turneron February 6, 2014 Reply
Wish you the very best ,I will be following you through out your new racing a cridit to Australia regards
Mary Sherratton February 6, 2014 Reply
Hi Mark, I have followed your racing only since you joined Red Bull I had planned to go to and watch you at Silverstone. However was not able to make it. I have watched every one of your F1 races live on TV. I have never missed one race as motor racing is the only sport I watch hope they televise the WEC races as I would like to watch everyone. Mark go and win races and show them what you’ve really got you had some bad luck over the last few races enough said! All the best for the season, go get em.
Chris HSon February 10, 2014 Reply
Love to follow you from F1 to WEc – where can I get a tv schedule for Aus viewing please?
Paulon February 12, 2014 Reply
Just been to my 3rd Bathurst 12 Hour. I’m a Porsche nut and would love to see Mark take it to the Merc’s and Ferrari’s in an RSR. Any idea what Mark will be driving at the 12 Hour in 2015?
Ronon February 12, 2014 Reply
Mark, hope all goes well in WEC and that you get the reliability in Porsche that the #2 car at Red Bull rarely had. Maybe you can influence a race coming to Oz? Keep safe mate.
Trevoron February 12, 2014 Reply
I think F1 has lost one of the best to sports cars, hope we can see your races in Australia, lost interest in F1 now you have gone!
Marilynon February 14, 2014 Reply
Good luck with Porsche hopefully the races will be televised.It will be my eleventh year following you.F1 loss is Porsche gain.
Antonio Alveson February 14, 2014 Reply
Olá Mark, acho que sou o único brasileiro que torce por você, sou seu fã. Nós brasileiros, Barrichello,Massa e você, tivemos o azar de ter sempre um alemão para nos infernizar.
Fiquei seu fã ainda mais quando soube do seu belo trabalho social com os menos favorecidos. Eu amo F1 mas infelizmente a F1 vai ficar um tanto sem graça sem a sua presença; vou ter que me adaptar sem a sua presença. Desejo muitas felicidades e muitas vitórias em sua nova carreira, você é competente e com certeza irá acrescentar muito a essa categoria.
Bret A. Brafordon February 16, 2014 Reply
Love you man. You’re a real class act.Here’s to much success with you’re new team. Take care.
Bruceon February 20, 2014 Reply
Good luck this year with your new challenge, I am sure you will give it your all as we are so use to seeing. You are true champion and an inspiration to us all. Hopefully we can see all your WEC races here in OZ and cheer on our aussie champion.