Australian Formula One grand prix
Where: Albert Park, Melbourne
When: Sunday, March 17
QUEANBEYAN Formula One ace Mark Webber will be the oldest driver lining up on the grid in this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix but the 36-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down any time soon.
On Sunday, Webber will embark on his 12th Drivers’ Championship campaign since debuting in Melbourne with Minardi in 2002.
Following the retirement of Michael Schumacher at the end of last season, Webber now stands as Formula One’s elder statesman, in a sport typically dominated by young tyros in the likes of Red Bull Racing teammate Sebastian Vettel.
But despite his newfound status, Webber has dismissed suggestions Sunday’s race could be his last run around the Albert Park circuit.
And those sentiments have been backed up by dad and Queanbeyan native Alan Webber, who described his son as “charged up” as he prepares to tackle another season behind the wheel.
“He’s motivated, he’s very fit and he enjoys what he’s doing,” Alan said. “When he’s sick of doing it, he’ll give it away but that might not be for a fair while yet.”
Regardless of how many more appearances in Melbourne the future holds for Mark Webber he will no doubt be desperate to secure a first ever Formula One victory on home soil.
Webber’s career has included nine Formula One race wins, including back-to-back triumphs at Monaco in 2011 and 2012. But the former Karabar High student yet to stand atop the podium in front of his home crowd.
“It’d be a big career plus for him to be sure but he’s got to have the car to suit the track,” Alan said of his son’s chances this weekend.
“Mark hasn’t always had the best of luck in this race and things have sometimes gone wrong but he’ll take that on board and one thing you can be sure of is that he’ll be out there doing his best.”
Red Bull’s official preseason testing in Barcelona yielded mixed results but the reigning three-time constructors’ champions are expected to once again be fighting it out at the top of the grid in 2013.
“It’s just my opinion but I think the leading teams always do a bit of foxing [in testing],” Alan said. “They all play their cards close to their chest but [Red Bull] should be at the front again this year. I think they’re fairly confident with the car.
“But we’ll have to wait until the cars hit the track in Melbourne to see who’s got the early pace.”