Maybe it was just a bad weekend for Mark Webber; it started out OK, but quickly deteriorated into either slight disappointment or a complete and utter disaster, depending on whether or not you’re a member of the M Webber fan club.
With Red Bull Racing monstering the front row of the grid, all looked set for a stellar Australian Grand Prix. Webber was facing the very real possibility of a coveted home GP victory.
It’s difficult being a high achieving Aussies sportsperson (ain’t political correctness hard on the ears?). Not that I would know from first-hand experience, but we have a habit of setting our tall poppies up on pedestals—only to throw stuff at them until they fall off.
Webber faced immense pressure via the television, radio, newspapers, and a legion of patriotic fans. The possibility of an Aussie winning the Australian GP was tangible, but it only lasted all of three seconds into the race.
History tells us the Massa blasted past him off the line and it was downhill from there. His team waited too long to switch to slick tyres—Webber, being lower down the order, had to wait until teammate Vettel had been looked after.
“It was panic stations after that,” Webber said. It showed.
Webber drove like a maniac.
One minute he laid down a fastest lap and the next he was in danger of throwing it at the wall.
In the end, after a couple of close inspections of the track-side gravel, Webber ended up clipping Hamilton, costing himself and the Englishman valuable points.
The crushing pressure proved too much.
Webber was responsible for an accident one would expect a rookie to get involved in. Webber will never be a great driver, nor will he fill the pages of the F1 history books—but he’s better than that.
You’d think after everything that he’d been through, that he’d pull his head in, lick his wounds (perhaps that should be the other way round), and start again in Malaysia.
Not our Mark, though.
He finished up his stay in Aus by firing a broadside at the Victorian police and Australian society in general.
Webber left Australia in the early 1990s to pursue a driving career in Europe and, according to Mark, Australia has changed while he’s been away.
''It's a great country, but we've got to be responsible for our actions and it's certainly a bloody nanny state when it comes to what we can do. Lewis has found out very quickly," Webber said. "It pisses me off coming back here, to be honest."
This, from a man who—to paraphrase Peter Allen’s schmaltzy, faux patriotic anthem to self-indulgence—“still calls Australia by phone.”
Hamilton had the good sense to admit his wrongdoing and apologise for his transgression. F1 drivers have immense credibility when delivering road safety messages; while his actions were disappointing, his contrition carried great weight.
We really didn’t need Webber’s input.