It has been a rather tumultous season for Mark Webber so far. The way he has kept himself composed amidst all of his team’s controversy is comendable and it puts him in stark contrast to his rather, at times, immature teammate. Mark has also been particularly controlled in the face of the aftermath of said controversy; controversy which, unfortunately, will stay around the paddock like a lingering stench for the rest of the season.
None of this sets up anything close to an ideal environment in which to mount a championship challenge. Having the fastest car in the field can only do so much in the face of shaken confidence and lost trust within a team. His relationship with Red Bull will obviously never be the same and, if rumors are to be believed, this final year with the team should bring a certain amount of relief to Mark. If he does leave the sport at the end of this season, his life will be vastly different. He won’t have to deal with the tremendous amount of pressure brought on by Red Bull and his teammate, he won’t have to deal with the reprehensible inequality he faces alongside Sebastian and he won’t have to face the internal battle between his desire to fight for the championship and the unfortunate reality that a championship will never happen.
A move to another Formula One team would seem a logical solution to the troubles Mark now faces in the coming months. Certainly, the Australian garners a huge amount of respect in the paddock, and his work ethic is on a level of which many drivers should be envious. Unfortunately, Mark has reached a point in his career at which he is less desireable than his natural talent can make up for. Formula One is a cutthroat world to live in and you have to be on the absolute top of your game at all times to cement a long-term place in the sport. Mark has performed admirably since his debut in 2002 but, arguably his championship potential was wiped out with the arrival of Sebastian Vettel to the Red Bull team in 2009.
The rumors surrounding Mark Webber have only grown with the passing years. His close relationship with both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have spawned many a suggestion that he could see out the end of his carrer at either Ferrari or Mclaren. But, as we know, at Mark’s age friendships do not get you race seats, it’s talent and potential. Mark’s potential saw its end at the conclusion of the 2010 season in which the championship was well within the realm of possibility. With Sebastian’s total domination in 2011, Mark’s confidence in his ability to cope with pressure and an ever-increasingly talented teammate was becoming too much to thrive alongside.
This left Mark in a very tricky situation in 2012. Rules implimented for the new season designed to negate Red Bull’s technical monopoly gave him a slight advantage at the beginning of the season, but once Red Bull brought a transformative upgrade to Singapore, Mark was not able to compete. Arguably, his downward slide in 2012 began before the Singapore upgrade, but there is no denying that 2012 was the year Mark lost his ability to compete for a championship.
I do not hold out any hope for Mark to fight for the title this season. If his disappointing trend continues, Red Bull run the risk of losing out on the Constructors’ chapionship, something that is basically the only reason Mark is still at Red Bull. If Mark can rediscover the spark that kept him in the fight for the championship in 2010, I will be a happy man, but there is nothing apparent to suggest that this is within the realm of possibility. No matter how vehemently Mark denies it, Mark will not win a world championsip. I am sure this will have upset many Webber fans, but deep down, they must know it is true.
This introduces a feasible direction for Mark’s future. While the rumors suggesting move to the World Endurance Championship for the Australian in 2014 are not new, they have not been backed up with concrete evidence that they’re true. Nevertheless, this would be an intriguing partnership and one which would hopefully rejuvinate his racing career.
Mark had a very successful career in endurance racing before he made the switch to Formula One and, in all likelihood, Mark would be open to a return to the sport in which he first tasted success. I firmly believe he would thrive in the series. The competitive nature of the racing is just as intense as it is in Formula One, and his 10+ years at the pinnacle of motorsport would make him a huge asset to any team in the WEC. With Porsche, the team planning a return to the WEC in 2014 and the team with which Webber is linked, Mark would enjoy all the benefits of a huge manufacturer team in a highly competitive racing series, while also being fully appreciated. These are two things Mark has been unable to enjoy during his years in Formula One, and I am sure they would be welcome reprieves from the tension he faces everyday at Red Bull. He fights an uphill battle day in, day out in Formula One. If he finds that this year should be his last in the sport, there is a new home waiting for him with open arms. Even if they don’t acknowledge it yet.