On the other side of the fence
An early morning swim followed by a long run is not what I would normally have done on the Sunday morning of the Australian Grand Prix! But things have changed since I was here a year ago and although I was in Melbourne for Friday and Saturday, I was able to watch the race unfold on telly back home in Queensland! It was interesting to be watching it from the outside but with all the knowledge from inside.
Returning to Albert Park was a little bit like it was before I was in F1 because although I wasn’t involved with the F1 programme, I was in and around some of the support events. I went to the Porsche Carrera Cup paddock to see the guys there and caught up with some old faces I used to race against back in the day in the junior categories. It was good to be able to spend time with people I hadn’t seen for ages.
There was a bit of strange weather floating around earlier in the week and where normally I would be interested in talking to the engineers about the run plan and how we would deal with the weather, this year it wasn’t even on my radar. When you’re not competing you’re not interested in a bit of rain on the windscreen on Wednesday and thinking how it might unfold on the weekend. I was a lot more relaxed but I was still mindful of the fact that I was there and I had a job to do especially with my commentating role for Network Ten which I wanted to ensure I did a good job with.
To my surprise I really enjoyed helping the commentary team with my experience, with the basics of what happens in qualifying, how you see it from a drivers perspective and how the team execute the session and talking about all the specialities, even though commenting was uncharted water for me.
It takes a while to become accustomed to all the cameras that are set up in a studio… the producer wants you to be looking at certain cameras and there is a lot going on both on the set and behind the scenes. They helped me through that as I am still very green but it just goes to show how good the TV guys are in putting on a great programme and I learnt a lot being on the other side.
The Australian race is a sensational event and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation does a great job organising so many other categories on-trackaround the F1 schedule, something which some other countries might feel the heat with. I did get the chance to watch the V8 touring cars which is a massive category out here, but my schedule unfortunately didn’t allow me to catch up with all the guys I know from there.
It’s amazing how quick the build up of a Grand Prix comes around. The race itself wasn’t super exciting, there was not as much going on as I thought there would be. I was really happy with the podium because Nico was the form man, he managed everything well out front. Obviously the big story out here is Daniel getting the car home, which was a big surprise for everyone after RBR’s limited pre-season testing, but then being disqualified for a fuel technicality. He drove brilliantly all weekend, qualifying was a very good effort in those tricky conditions and despite the disappointment, he should be very happy with his weekend and will have already pressed the reset button for Malaysia in two weeks. Also, Kevin Magnussen did a great job finishing his first race on the podium being the first Danish driver up there. They had a few big scalps out with Lewis and Seb retiring but that’s what you expect at this stage in the season and those other guys took their opportunity.
Even though I still had a busy schedule this year I did have some time to do more fun activities and not be so regimental with my timing. There wasn’t the need to lock myself away as much as I used to have during an F1 race weekend.
I went down to Philip Island with Porsche. The manufacturers use the track for their VIPs to showcase their latest models. I drove the Turbo and Turbo S on a track I last raced on in 1995 where I won the Formula Ford race. It hasn’t changed massively; there are huge sea birds who sit at the side of the track and it’s very easy to hit one of those and damage the cars. I remember coming back to the pits one day with blood all over my helmet having hit a bird in my Formula Ford. The track is a bit smoother today but it’s real old-school. We thrashed the cars around with Porsche VIPs and I enjoyed driving them. It was a beautiful day and I took the helicopter to fly down there which was nice.
A lot of people I talked to over the past week are very excited about Le Mans, the 919 Hybrid and asking lots of questions because they are so removed from it. Hopefully though we will be able to share the WEC with the Australian fans a bit more this year so they can get to enjoy and understand the different concept of racing. The welcome I received from the fans coming back to Melbourne blew me away, whether it was at the hotel or at track. They were just thankful for my long career where they could support me and they enjoyed watching me challenge for big results week in and out. It was good to see the support and spend a sniff more time with them than I did in the years gone by. I did a big signing session on Saturday and received a lot of nice words from the Aussie fans knowing that one chapter is closed and another opens with Porsche and many of them are planning to come to Le Mans. They accept that it’s a change but I think they enjoy following me from F1 to sports cars and it’s great to see them again.
We will be doing our first official test in Paul Ricard end of the month where we will have all the big boys there testing together. It’s also a good track for us to test, it’s quick with long straights and we will get a bit of an idea how the preparation is going.
The focus is to get prepared for executing the best test. It’s actually similar watching F1 and what we are going through now with the preparations. Some teams had some tricky preparation in their F1 build up and it’s quite similar for us. The cars are very advanced now and you just want to have a clean, normal weekend but as we saw in Melbourne over the weekend, it’s not that easy. It shows you when you keep working hard though, there are some great results around the corner. We are in the same boat. It’s only a few weeks out from the first race, so we need to keep working hard and off the back of that last test, get ready for Silverstone.
Evanon March 17, 2014 Reply
Your an absolute champion Mark!! You certainly can have a career in front of the camera when you have had enough racing (hopefully never feel that way) ever the professional. Aussie Grit!!!
Bretton March 17, 2014 Reply
Really enjoyed listen to your point of view on the weekend mark, think you should consider part time commentating 🙂
Ryanon March 17, 2014 Reply
Just wanted to say thank you Mark, my homework suffered during 2002 until I finished high school in 2005 and I was pleased to see you being part of the GP, cannot wait to see what the Porsche chapter brings.
Ben (aka Bluey)on March 17, 2014 Reply
Thanks for the blog post. Thoroughly enjoyed your insights during F1 qualy. Will be following you in the Porsche this year. Lots of late nights ahead here in Oz watching/listening to the rounds of the FIA WEC. (And a Queenslander now ? got your Maroon jersey yet ? 🙂 )
Elisaon March 17, 2014 Reply
Thanks a lot for this, really enjoyed reading…
You did just the right thing to leave F1 at this stage.
Good luck my favourite driver!
Steveon March 17, 2014 Reply
Is there any way for those of us in the UK to hear your Network Ten commentary, Mark?
Jacon March 17, 2014 Reply
Loved your race commentary. Your insights really brought the whole race to life. Thank you Mark for years of late night edge of my seat F1. I look forward to the Le Mans journey with you.
Jill and Brianon March 17, 2014 Reply
Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us Mark it’s always a pleasure to read and listen to what you have to say. Good luck in your new venture with Porsche, we’ll be there supporting you at Silverstone and Le Mans, you’ll soon be on that top step again where you rightfully belong. All the best champ x
Helenon March 17, 2014 Reply
My husband & I are big fans, following you for many years. We THOROUGHLY enjoyed your commentary and insights on Saturday. With all the jobs done around the home, we sat & enjoyed a spectacular Qualifying!
Hoping you continue to commentate- you could certainly give those two poms we have to put up with through the year, a run for their money!
All the best for your next chapter in life!
P.s. Your lovely, grounded manner and work ethic is a wonderful example for both our children.
Helen & Vin Butler
Chrison March 17, 2014 Reply
Commentary was brilliant, Mark. It’s great to see you not being hamstrung by Red Bull press people- your personality comes out and it’s fantastic! If you have the inclination, I’d definitely recommend pursuing TV once the driving is over.
Alexon March 18, 2014 Reply
Mark, I and many others really hope that you pop into the ‘comm box’ for some more insight into the goings on in the F1 scene. Your point of view on Saturday was very unique; the odds of an Aussie ex-driver being able to comment on a fellow Aussie driver competing in the same team – in an Australian race I might add – are surely just left of zero.
I appreciate that you have your Porsche commitments, but when possible/happy to, please think of the many fans who would love you to take advantage of this very VERY rare opportunity.
Best of luck for your motorsport future 🙂
Alisonon March 18, 2014 Reply
Is there any possibility that you may join the Skysports F1 presenting team in the future if you were asked?
Daveon March 18, 2014 Reply
I love you Mark x
Jameson March 18, 2014 Reply
Killer job over the week Mark. Don’t be a stranger now – it’d be great to get more of your insights over the rest of the F1 calendar.
Drive the hoops off that 919 mate – best of luck!
Peter Heydenreichon March 18, 2014 Reply
Thank you for posting! Being a dane, I was of course extremely happy to see Kevin doing so well, but also kind of sad seeing Ricciardo – who did drive a brilliant race – being disqualified due to technical reasons well out of his hands. Must be pretty frustrating, but I hope he’ll – as you say – hit the reset button before Malaysia.
Paulie veeon March 18, 2014 Reply
Thanks for the post mark good to here your comments and that you are enjoying life on the other side of F1, most of us have been following you race for years and I use to scream at the TV every race and the kids would go out lol or they would make me sit in the car and watch on the portable TV . now I can’t .. But I still scream at Kimi.. I love cars love raceing and love watching you pilot the fastest cards on the planet
Shannonon March 18, 2014 Reply
The commentary was excellent Mark. Great presence on the camera and really insightful. I can definitely see a career in TV.
john byrneon March 18, 2014 Reply
Thanks for sharing, Mark. You have more fans than any other foreign driver here in the UK, who will continue to follow you in whatever you do. Wish there were more like you in F1. You’re a star!
Danielaon March 18, 2014 Reply
I lov u Mark! You’re the best!!
Mark jon March 18, 2014 Reply
Great to be hearing you having a well deserved chill out 🙂 , I will be at Le Mans and silverstone cheering for you flying the aussie flag ! See you there best of luck in the future buddy !
Davidon March 18, 2014 Reply
I bet your glad that your not racing those go karts this weekend. No noise anymore, just not the same. Looking forward to your Le Mans win in June!!
Robert Kilsbyon March 18, 2014 Reply
Very nice words there Mark. Well done on a sterling career so far, looking forward to your run in the WEC!
Rolf Tellstenon March 18, 2014 Reply
Mark be glad that you do not have to drive those shit cars! :-/
Bruno Van Mieghemon March 18, 2014 Reply
I always admired you and it will not change in the future, you will stil ending on the top!
andie cattermoleon March 18, 2014 Reply
As professional as ever Mark. Love you. X
Es Castilloon March 18, 2014 Reply
It’s great to know that your active again soon with Porche . I’ll be following you at Le Mans & Silverstone . BEST of LUCK Mark !!!
Billy-Joon March 18, 2014 Reply
Mark thank you for keeping the aussie tag at the forefront of international racing, would love to see you race back in Australia in the near future, maybe a stint in the V8’s.
Johnno35on March 18, 2014 Reply
Next year, stick around for a MTB ride at the You Yangs Mark 🙂
Claudia Lorenzanaon March 18, 2014 Reply
I love car races and you are my favorite driver. I was a good athlete and outdoors fan and I love dogs, so all of this makes me like you more…but what it’s more important is that I admire you as a racer, as an athlete, mtn biker and as a public figure…but much more than this I admire you as a person, I can read a great writer, a great human being, you help others and have a big heart with kids,and animals.
In F1 where everyone has Temper tantrums I always saw you as a true Gentleman…so congratulations Mark Webber for being a great person to admire. I missed watching you in the F1 race and I love reading your point of view from outside. You really rock!
Ryanon March 18, 2014 Reply
I once watched the highlights from Le Mans… But I think now, because I followed you and have been a fan of yours for your entire F1 career… There’s no way I’m not watching WEC!
It sounds like you’re happier now, Mark. That’s awesome man. Good luck and may the racing gods smile upon you.
Beátaon March 18, 2014 Reply
Nice thoughts, Mark, thank you for sharing them with us! You were right: it is a totally different era in F1. You had made the right decision in the right time. I am looking forward to the events of the Porsche project. Good luck to you for the tests and races!
Wayneon March 18, 2014 Reply
Mark, my 6 year old doesn’t understand why you are not in F1 anymore, and insisted that I buy him more Mark Webber merchandise at Albert Park on the weekend which I gladly obliged. 🙂
Being a massive Porsche fan and owner, and growing up watching the winning 956/962s, I am very much looking forward to the return of Porsche and yourself at Le Mans. Good luck Mark!
Sandraon March 18, 2014 Reply
I really enjoyed your commentary on Saturday at the F1.What you have written here is great, thank you for your efforts. Good luck with your new team and car.
Liamon March 18, 2014 Reply
Can’t wait to see how you go in the 919. All the best for 2014 and beyond.
Scott Hewitton March 18, 2014 Reply
Great work with the commentary, you should consider it seriously for when you have down-time from your Porsche duties and post-racing career. Thanks heaps for your time while you were in town, and best of luck to you and your team with the 919 Hybrid…
Ritaon March 18, 2014 Reply
Good luck myfavourite
driver!!! Mark yuo’re
harryon March 18, 2014 Reply
good report, do you live in QLD now?
Samon March 18, 2014 Reply
Really enjoyed your input to the commentary. Shame about Ric’s disqualification… 🙁 Cant wait for Le Mans!!!
Simon Milneron March 18, 2014 Reply
Mark, great compilation of events from the weekend and more so hearing it from a recent F1 competitor.
I didn’t miss a single race over your F1 career and was very happy to see you finish it with a personal moment by removing your helmet to allow veryone to see a human behind the wheel.
I wish you well on your ongoing racing career and hope there is a way for us in Australia to follow it on the tv.
Christine Thomason March 18, 2014 Reply
Will miss staying up on Sunday night to watch you race, and now will have to get used to Daniel….he did a great job on the weekend.
Many thanks for all your races, it has been wonderful following your career in F1.
All the very best in my all time fave car, Porche!!!
Loved your commentating also – you should do more.
Take care and enjoy the next chapter
Chrison March 18, 2014 Reply
I really enjoyed your commentary on Ten mate, it was nice to have an insight from an experienced driver that tells it like it is. F1? Just not the same… I am glad I didn’t make the trip down to Melbourne to listen to those things, what were they thinking?
Good luck in the WEC Mark, I will certainly be following you with interest.
Chris – Brisbane
Anantha Krishnan Iyeron March 18, 2014 Reply
Right from your first race for Minardi where you did the impossible of scoring points for that car till the time you raced your last in F1 at Interlagos to finish at the podium. Thank you for the memories Mark. Looking forward to Le Mans and the Porsche 919 Hybrid
John (JC)on March 18, 2014 Reply
Thank you Mark for the great report on your weekend. It was nice to see you looking relaxed & comfortable at the GP.Your interview at the breakfast was great & your commentry on qualifying was very informative. As you can see from above we all thoroughly enjoyed it, but some of the drivers might be worried because you tell it like it is! It was great to hear your perspective & Ten would be smart to sign you up for future commentries, (if it fits in with your program). I followed you all through F1 & as a Porsche tragic I’ll be with you in your new career. I’m really hoping that you can make it to race with Eric Bana at next year’s Bathurst 12 hour race. It would be fantastic to see you there. Best of luck mate.
Lenon March 18, 2014 Reply
Sebastion Vettel = 4x world F1 champion.
Mark Webber = 12x world F1 champion sportsman.
As you once wrote on the photo we had taken together ( drive hard mate )
Geoff Smithon March 18, 2014 Reply
Thanks for doing such a good job at the weekend – glad you are here in sunny Qld. Any chance that you could be the ambassador for our Road Safety Expo which Crestmead NHW is organising for October 19th? Did send a request to your Sydney business address but no reply. Since this is the lead event for Safe Roads 4 Logan for road safety week your participation would be so valuable. Our motto – keep speed to the racetrack. Cheers Matey!
Mark Webber Site Manageron April 10, 2014 Reply
Hi Geoff – thanks for the comment. We’ll make sure your message is passed on to Mark’s management team.
Brianon March 19, 2014 Reply
Mark have followed your career since yellow pages formula ford great to see the way you have gone from strength to strength all the best for the next chapter, I’ll be watching with huge interest
jude lewison March 19, 2014 Reply
I proper missed you in the first grand prix of the season!
Grahame Percevalon March 19, 2014 Reply
What a brilliant performance in front of the cameras Mark, and how easy to listen to someone who knows what they are talking about with no Bull!
Gildaon March 20, 2014 Reply
Thanks Mark for all the insights and also for an F! career that we thoroughly enjoyed following. All the very best to you in WEC. You are a true champion!
Maryon March 21, 2014 Reply
You were missed on Sunday, we will get used to Daniel he did a great job at the weekend. It has been wonderful following your career in F1 I will still support Red Bull but it will never be the same.
All the very best in for the future you will soon be at the top again hope we will see you racing on British television again soon. Good Luck and enjoy life.
Colinon March 22, 2014 Reply
As a Marshal, I have enjoyed watching you race, and hope now things are different when your in the lead, you stay in the lead. Looking forward to seeing you at Silverstone next month. All the best.
jayon March 25, 2014 Reply
you gave your all in this sport and rewarded us all with your skills, maturity and patience, against all odds, in and outside the team, you still managed to give F1 fans all the thrills and spills, and demonstrate to the youth of today how to behave when the odds are stacked against you.
cheers and thanks matey, look forward to following you in the Porches, I hope TEN will be broadcasting all the races,
Mercèon March 26, 2014 Reply
I am Mercy, a fan who lives in your Catalonia.
In Catalonia today is San Marcos, and I congratulate you.
Hope you had good time with family and friends.
That I just have fun.
Good luck with your new stage.
A hug and a kiss strong sell.
Wendyon March 30, 2014 Reply
Really enjoyed the report you did for the beeb on how to get race fit for the really hot races. Fascinating. Looking forward to the next one. Miss you racing but good to see you around and about Good luck with WEC hope your first season goes well
AaXon March 30, 2014 Reply
When you have finally WON the F1 championship, I’ll be there. GOD Willing!