The Agony and The Ecstasy: Why I Love Being a Webber Fan

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The Agony and The Ecstasy: Why I Love Being a Webber Fan
(Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Some people choose to live their lives the easy way.  Others become Mark Webber fans. That is how I feel having just sat through qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, yet another instance of the man going so close (to a good qualifying position running 3rd early on), yet finishing so far off the mark (10th for the record and no pun intended).

If you couldn't tell from the title, I am a huge Mark Webber fan. I have never adored a sportsperson so much, never felt so passionately about one man's task and never been so frustrated by one individual's plight as I do about Mark Webber's.

Now, this probably doesn't separate me from most people who support a team or individual in any one of the world's thousands of sports. But why do I put myself through the career that is Mark Webber's? Surely choosing to attach my cart to any other horse in the field would result in a more comfortable existence?

Well, yes it would.  In fact, once upon a time my cart was firmly attached to a prancing horse. My first years as a fan of F1 were in the 90's, growing up watching Michael Schumacher's meteoric rise to World Champion.

My first memories of the sport were of a driver so perfect and freakishly talented that he would take wins in everything he sat in.  Although the late 90's were a bit lean (by his standards anyway) he came back in the 2000's and crushed the field year after year.  

Naturally, as a young and easily corrupted lad, I became an unconditional Schumacher fan, as did many others around the world.

I loved the fact that I could tune in week after week and see that the guys I picked and identified myself as a fan of had swept the field once again. Choosing Schumacher was choosing the safe bet. And being safe is usually the first ingredient in leading a comfortable and predictable existence.

But in 2005, Schumacher was beaten. And that is when I realised, that I had lost the point of being a fan of motorsport. 

I wasn't watching the race and enjoying it because my favourite driver could put in a good performance and take victory. I was watching to be safe in the knowledge I was very unlikely of being found out to be wrong.

I was mindlessly feeding a system that many criticised as being too sterile and, dare I say it, 'boring'. That is not sport.  It's not even entertainment.

So I switched. But not to new darlings Renault, and later McLaren, both of whom gaining an overnight influx of fans wanting to be seen in a winning team's merchandise. Instead I tuned in to the underdog that was Mark Webber in his sub-standard Williams. And although he's gone onto equally unreliable luck since with Red Bull, I've never strayed since.

But why would I get so emotionally caught up in a person who carries the label 'the unluckiest driver of all time'? A person who's only realistic shot at a win was in a race where he dispensed his lunch onto his race suit and was then unceremoniously punted off behind a safety car by the hottest sensation of 2008?

Whose quest for a podium in F1's first night race was halted by a freakish electrical interruption from overhead tram lines?  Who was hit by a two ton car in his own charity event, breaking his leg and limiting his off-season?

Because following Webber is what being a sports fan is all about. It's about the anguish you feel when yet again, something happens to his car.

It's the joy you feel when no one expects it, he gets up and snags a great result.  And most of all, it's the confirmation that no matter what happens, you can always hope and dream that one day he'll win a race.  

And that, ladies and Gentlemen, is what keeps me coming back week after week.

So good on you Mark Webber. You don't make it look easy, but you sure make it entertaining.

Break a leg, son!

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