Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

On This Day: 7th August 2006 - Webber confirmed at Red Bull - Mark Webber's departure from Williams was followed by a new team

Published by Christine

Mark Webber waves to US fans during the parade lap, back in 2007.
Mark Webber waves to US fans during the parade lap, back in 2007.Credit: GEPA pictures/ Franz Pammer

In the midst of the 2006 season, Mark Webber was racing with Williams F1 and not doing particularly well. He was with the Grove-based team for two years, with the highlight one solitary third place podium finish at Monaco in 2005. After a string of retirements the next season, the relatively new Red Bull squad snapped him up for the 2007 season. Hasn't he come a long way since then?

Webber's contract with Williams was due to come to an end at the end of the 2006 season anyway, and although the team had an option on him for '07, they came to what appeared to be a mutual agreement to let him go. At the time, Frank Williams spoke of Webber's chances of moving to another team:

I understand what the opportunity is. And anyone would do whatever it took to get that opportunity. He has a realistic good chance of getting it and I sincerely hope it falls into his lap.

- Frank Williams

It did fall into his lap, as Red Bull soon confirmed their line-up for their third season in Formula One - Mark Webber and David Coulthard. It was an odd pairing, the Red Bull image was normally of youth and passion and exuberance. With this line-up they had gone for popular and friendly guys, but who were more experienced than youthful. Their combined age made them one of the oldest teams on the grid.

Webber was keen to get going with his new team, as well. Looking forward to the challenge and the opportunity.

It's clear that the team is very hungry for long-term success, it has a very talented group of personnel and there seems to be a real sense of team spirit and unity. I believe I'm joining the team at exactly the right time for success in the future.

- Mark Webber

Looking to the future was the best thing Webber could have done, as the results were far from instant. With Coulthard and Webber together, the team finished fifth and seventh in the constructor's championship for 2007 and 2008 respectively. A solid, but unremarkable performance, with what appeared to be a fast but fragile car.

That is the motto that has continued to this day - fast but fragile. When Coulthard retired, and Sebastian Vettel joined the team, the speed increased and the results began to pour in. Despite an ongoing recovery from a broken leg sustained during the winter, Webber took his first win in Germany 2009, another in Brazil, and this year has seen many, many more.

With a faster teammate, though, comes added stress, and the relationships at Red Bull are under constant scrutiny. These days, you expect to see a petulant Vettel and a well-worn Webber somewhere near the podium. Now, he says things like:

We've had some small hiccups here and there because you need perfect weekends to win at this level. Of course Sebastian and I are pushing each other pretty hard as well to beat each other and you need to get everything right.

- Mark Webber

Quite a change from the grateful and excited Mark of 2006, looking forward to his opportunity and hoping to get some results. I wonder what the next four years will bring for him.