Red Bull Racing legend Mark Webber retired from professional motorsport at the end of the FIA World Endurance Championship season in Bahrain. The much loved Aussie, who won nine races for Red Bull between 2007-2013, gives advice to his 25-year-old self, before his F1 debut, on how to handle life in the fast lane.
Mark: Remember the times when go-karting with incredible dreams and ambitions of one day visiting a famous track in Europe like Silverstone or Monaco, let alone the thrill of racing on one? You will live out all of these dreams and more, with memories of racing with some of the best in the business like Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso in your mind forever. Make sure you enjoy every moment.
When you line up for your debut Grand Prix in Australia with Minardi in 2002, aged 25, you have it all to learn but a challenge is not something you will ever shy away from. As you become older and wiser, you will begin to realise there were times when you would have liked to have done things a bit differently but it’s all part of the learning curve and there’s no rewind button!
All the difficulties are just part of the ride. Whether it is the dangerous accidents – some your fault and some not – or the ginormous challenge of learning how to beat people at the highest level consistently, embrace the task at hand and get amongst it from the start.
And the biggest advice I can give to you is don’t be afraid to utilize the experts around you from the very start of your career.
You will always have good relationships with so many people you work with but play to their strengths which in turn will benefit your performance. It is really important and comes with experience but working with great people will help get the best out of you. There will be people with more talent but they will never figure out how to do this and won’t even have a career in F1.
Some of the best times in your career will be at Red Bull Racing. After a tough period at Williams, grab this new opportunity with both hands and make the most of the honest and open relationship with David Coulthard, who you will learn a hell of a lot from and help to build the team with while becoming great mates away from the track too.
Although it will be a big call when you decide to hang up your F1 helmet at the end of 2013, it’s definitely the right decision especially as you will have been eyeing up something to reignite your fire after 12 years on the F1 treadmill. Perhaps you never would have imagined you’d be joining a sports car team again after Le Mans ’99 but you will sign up with the brand new Porsche LMP1 programme and will have an amazing three years. You’ll be surprised how much you enjoy sharing a car with teammates again – you’ll build some great friendships and walk away with a Drivers’ World Championship under your belt.
Then, despite still feeling young and having a huge amount of knowledge and experience to draw upon, you will step away from the cockpit for the final time. You will be bowing out when you’re still driving well and enjoying it but it’s the right decision. It might sound baffling to you now but there will come a time when lap times just aren’t as important to you anymore.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, don’t ever forget to treat people with respect and race fairly throughout your career. Always. The way you were brought up by your family should never change. You will want to retire without there being a single person you can’t shake hands with and say that we put it all out there and that it was all done in the correct way. It is important that all the trophies you will win and have at home have been won fairly. Don’t forget your roots, Mark, you will always be a country boy who really just loves to go racing.
Text and photos © Red Bull Media House