QUEANBEYAN’S Mark Webber brought down the curtain on his 12-year Formula One odyssey with a second place finish at last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo.
Webber’s teammate Sebastian Vettel claimed a record equalling ninth-consecutive Grand Prix victory to deny the Australian a fairytale finish to his career.
But with Vettel having already secured the Driver’s Championship heading into Brazil, it was on Webber the spotlight shone the brightest.
After 215 races, four Constructor’s Championships with Red Bull and a Driver’s Championship that might have been in 2010, the 37-year-old has become, as his father Alan summed up, “a part of the furniture” on the F1 circuit after all.
And even for a man widely regarded as the sport’s consummate professional, the occasion was one fraught with emotion.
“The difficult part for me…was actually getting in to the car for the final time. I was overcome with some emotion then to be honest,” Webber acknowledged on his official website following his final race.
That moment of the helmet going on and stepping into the car was actually the strongest emotion I’ve had all day.
“Then crossing the line and seeing all the guys was great. [Red Bull team principal] Christian [Horner] radioed me and said enjoy the last lap, which I did. I did it as slow as I could; it was a very special day.”
Prior to the race, Webber arrived at the Red Bull garage to find his car draped in an Australian flag and with Waltzing Matilda playing in the background.
A nearby Red Bull pit board read simply, ‘Thank You Mark’.
Webber’s second place finish was his 42nd podium appearance from a total of 215 races having raced for four different teams: Minardi, Williams, Jaguar and finally and most successfully, Red Bull.
And it marked the end of a remarkable motor racing journey from the go kart tracks of his hometown to the pinnacle of world motorsport.
"I would have been very happy growing up and staying in Queanbeyan because I wouldn't have known any different, but when you start to delve into other areas of life, other places, then it really is a case of 'wow, this is a ride,” Webber said in a Red Bull Racing team press release.
"And it was a great ride. You sometimes get more out of that than the actual results."
Webber will race for Porsche in the FIA Endurance Championship in 2014.