Mark Webber has said that one of the main reasons why he has remained in Formula 1 for so long is Adrian Newey. He feels very fortunate to be able to drive cars that he has designed, including this year’s Red Bull RB9.
The Aussie will make his Formula 1 exit at the end of the season after twelve seasons in the sport and seven with newly crowned four time constructor’s champions Red Bull Racing. He will take on a new challenge and compete for Porsche in the World Endurance Championship.
He admitted to Sky Sports News that Newey’s cars were one of the main reasons why he stayed in the sport: “Adrian Newey is still probably one of the biggest reasons I continue to drive, because to drive his cars is still very, very rewarding.”
However, that hasn’t helped to stop his decreasing enthusiasm for the sport over the past few years. He said: “I think towards the end of your career, you probably find little things that convince yourself that you’re not enjoying it as much as you were. You’re not 22 anymore and that’s obvious; I’m 37 and I’ve done over 215 races at the end of the year, so the juice goes out of the tank a little bit.
“But at the end of the day, I’m still super-respectful of who I’m racing against and how I go about it. I’m still not blasé about competing at this level; I still respect it at this level. But there comes a time when you’ve got to get that decision right.”
Webber has won nine Formula 1 races so far in his career and came close to taking the title in 2010. However, a poor race at the season finale in Abu Dhabi meant that he missed out to team-mate Sebastian Vettel.
“If I’d won the Championship in 2010, that might not have been the best decision, if I’d retired then. But it didn’t happen,” he added.
Vettel has gone on to claim three more world titles and has consistently outperformed Webber throughout their five seasons as team-mates. He believes that the change from Bridgestone to Pirelli tyres for 2011 has played a big role in why he hasn’t been able to match the four-time world champion on a more consistent basis.
“Little did I know what we were in for, probably, with the switch in tyres from Bridgestone to Pirelli,” he said. “That was another thing; it’s up to the drivers to get your head around that and sort that out, but even within the same tyre family – you can see it now with [Lotus team-mates] Kimi [Raikkonen] and [Romain] Grosjean – when you have these slight changes in tyres and how they can really affect the drivers’ performance.
“That’s been magnified on the Pirellis quite a bit in my opinion, through different driving styles and techniques and things like that. That hasn’t helped I don’t think – the top-flight edge of getting the most out of yourself week in, week out.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic