Tuesday 26 November 2013

Further thoughts on the Brazilian Grand Prix

Webber times it perfectly
The most prominent of all of the goodbyes in Interlagos was that of Mark Webber, as he's off to drive Porsches in LMP1 from next year. And it said a lot about him that even in the cynical, fractious paddock this was met with something close to universal emphasis and poignancy. For lots of reasons I - like most - am sad to be losing Mark Webber from F1, both as a driver and man (I outline the reasons in more detail in what I wrote in Further Thoughts from the Silverstone weekend, when Webber announced that he was off).

Mark Webber - walking away at the right time
Photo: Octane Photography
Yet from Webber himself in Interlagos - while there was appreciation at his send-off - there were few tears. I instead sensed that Webber was entirely at ease with his decision to step away from F1; entirely prepared for it. And for that, I'm glad.

Webber has admitted that the Pirelli tyres and the resultant modern endurance-type F1 racing and persistent rubber conservation is not to his taste either in terms of satisfaction or results (it's ironic that he's off to endurance racing to be able to push again), telling The Daily Telegraph a few weeks ago:

'The young guys coming through don't know any different yet but it has been getting harder for me on Sundays. High-speed corners are one of my strengths but that's where you kill the tyres. It's so frustrating. The guys will come on the radio and say "Don't push. Slow it down." You just feel like there's a lot of stuff falling through the net in terms of what you could bring. Vettel is seriously handy, don't get me wrong, but guys like Lewis have been hurt. He just wants to race every lap. And this, at the moment, is just not working for him.'

Another explicit consideration for Webber was the perennial one of stopping at the right time, and he reiterated this point after the Brazil race:

Photo: Octane Photography
'You also have to accept there's a point where you can't get the best out of yourself anymore, and I'm so so happy to be finishing driving really really well, I did not want to be sliding back down through the field. We've seen it with lots of different sports men and women where they completely screw the timing up and there's enough emotion and tension and pressure going into this sport week in, week out without actually having the last few years of your career operating completely out of the window, and I also didn't want to give certain people satisfaction knowing that they could probably beat me when you're not at that level as well. So for me it's a plus plus to stop at the right time.'

To borrow from former UK Prime Minister Harold Wilson, another who quit while at the pinnacle and with timing that surprised most at its promptness: 'it's better to go when people are asking why you're going than stay until people are asking why you're staying'. And Webber very much went out at the top: looking typically combative in Interlagos, passing several cars, and despite another tardy start, a botched pitstop and having to queue in his other, he kept his haughty stable mate Sebastian Vettel more than honest on his way to second place.

Mark got his timing exactly right.

1 comment:

  1. "Vettel is seriously handy, don't get me wrong, but guys like Lewis have been hurt. He just wants to race every lap. And this, at the moment, is just not working for him."
    I wonder how much truth is in that. Hamilton has been complaining the last two races that he doesn't understand why he's struggling, and I'm suprised I've not read more about why that might be.