3: SECOND VICTORY AT SECOND HOME
– 2012 FORMULA 1, British Grand Prix
Webber has made England his home for close to 20 years and claimed his first British Grand Prix victory in 2010. But it was his second Silverstone triumph in F1 that stands out simply because it came in a straight fight with Fernando Alonso courtesy of a pass in the closing laps.
Having qualified second, Webber held position at the start but it seemed the leading Ferrari was in control. However, qualifying had been held in wet conditions so both had free choice of which compound to start on. Webber started on the soft, meaning he ran the hard tires for his final two stints. But Alonso started on the hard. When he put the softs on for the run to the flag, it quickly became clear that he was vulnerable to the charging Aussie.
Alonso pitted on lap 37 and had a four-second advantage over Webber, who'd pitted earlier. By lap 45, he was just half-a-second behind Alonso and three laps later, with the assistance of the DRS rear wing, he blasted down the outside into the Brooklands left-hander to take the lead.
“Fernando was strong in the first two stints and I was having trouble matching him,” says Webber of his chase. “On low fuel on the options, we expected he was going to be strong toward the end of the race. Then it became clear that he was having a bit of trouble with his tires, whereas we'd used our softs early in the race and that was why the gap was there.
“Closing in on someone, you get into such a trance that you're not really conscious of the laps. It was the same when I was chasing down Nico [Rosberg] at Silverstone this year; you're so busy focusing on each corner and getting the maximum from it.
“When I caught Fernando, there were a few places where I could see that he was absolutely on it. We both were. He wanted it and I knew I needed to execute the move very well. I had a few laps to line him up but it was a sweet moment passing Fernando because 1) It's a very special grand prix to win, and 2) it's special to win against someone who is arguably the best of our generation.
“Fernando and I have had some sensational wheel-to-wheel battles over the years; some I've lost, some I've won. He's a guy that makes every opportunity count.”
2: STREET MASTER
– 2010 FORMULA 1, Monaco Grand Prix
Webber has always shown an aptitude for street circuits and even got himself into contention for victory at Monaco in 2005 while driving a mediocre Williams. In 2010, riding a strong Red Bull, he was utterly imperious, and it was one of those days when he was comforably able to eclipse teammate and nemesis Sebastian Vettel.
Webber bagged pole position by three-tenths of a second ahead of the Renault of Robert Kubica. The Pole appeared to be a serious threat for the race, but a tardy start meant that it was actually Vettel who picked up the chase.
Don't pay too much heed to Webber's eventual winning margin – 0.448sec. This was, in fact, a crushing win, had it not been for four safety car periods that interrupted his progress.
“Yup, Monaco could have been a big distance of victory without the safety cars,” he agrees. “I could have been 30 seconds down the road. It would have been nice to win by a bigger margin – it was disappointing how many safety cars we had that day. But still, I remember it as being just one of those great days when it didn't matter what you did, you could drive around all day and no one would beat you.”
1: GRAND PRIX WINNER AT LAST
– 2009 FORMULA 1, German Grand Prix
It was Webber's 130th F1 start. Red Bull teammate Vettel had already won twice and many were questioning whether the Australian would ever claim his first win. The bare facts say that Webber won from pole position. But it was nothing like so simple.
From pole position, Webber made an average start, allowing Rubens Barrichello in the frequently dominant Brawn GP BGP001 to get alongside. The Brazilian F1 veteran got through into the lead but not before a clash of wheels with Webber that resulted in the Red Bull driver being punished with a pit drive-through penalty.
Webber jumped ahead of Barrichello in the first round of pit stops before serving his penalty, but he re-emerged eighth on lap 20 and knew he had to go for it. By just after half-distance, Webber was back in the lead thanks to a seriously impressive turn of speed and he went on to claim that elusive first win.
“Nurburgring '09 was a big moment – a huge relief but also good because of the way I won,” reflects Webber at the same venue four years later. “It wasn't a fluke win like a Pastor Maldonado or a Heikki Kovalainen and it wasn't a one-off. I was really happy for lots of reasons, how it happened with the drive-through and everything.
“All grand prix wins are special, but Nurburgring and the first Monaco win were super-special for different reasons.”