Webber revved up by new Formula One cars

One half of Mark Webber wants to climb back into a new generation F1® car and go racing again.

The other half wants to stay safe in retirement after a fabulous career in global motorsport.

It’s a dilemma that he can live with after 215 F1® races during which he diced with the best before handing his Red Bull keys to Daniel Ricciardo.

Now 40, and working as an ambassador for Rolex, among other roles, the nine-time F1® race winner is a busy man in the paddock at this weekend’s season-opening 2017 Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix.

But he had time to spare in the Rolex suite at Albert Park on Saturday to reveal a few insights into this year’s world championship contenders, the new generation ‘fatter and faster’ cars and his life after F1®

“There is an attraction to the new cars, of course, and when I talk to the guys I raced with – like Lewis and Sebastian – they say to me ‘Mark, you would love to race these cars!’

“That’s good for me to hear and I’m happy they’ve managed to bet the ‘regs’ right to stimulate the drivers because Formula One will always be the ultimate test of man and machine.

“Pushing the boundaries and pushing for perfection in top-flight sport – that’s what it should be – to test the top guys, the best guys in the world.”

And for Webber, now luxuriating in studying the best from an expert’s position, this year’s title race is likely to be a close scrap between champions Mercedes and a resurgent Ferrari with three-time champion Briton Lewis Hamilton and four-time champion German Sebastian Vettel leading the way.

“It’s a huge challenge for Ferrari,” he said. “Mercedes are stable and the sport is cyclical… Can someone crack that wall? Can they do it over a whole season?

“I think Ferrari are going to win races, but a season? I think they’ve got Sebastian engaged again and that is crucial. The marriage is back on, but if they are not winning in the next eighth months he will be looking over the fence.

“And that is fascinating dynamic – between the team and the driver – at that level just to see if they can work to get the ‘prancing horse’ back to the front.”

As a former Red Bull team-mate of Vettel’s, Webber knows what the German is capable of doing. “If he gets a sniff of success, he is frightening,” he said.

“But also I think that Lewis has more outright skill than Sebastian. He is so good in all conditions.

“If they were both put in the same equal cars, well, that would be mouthwatering, absolutely!”

Webber remains addicted to the drug of F1®, he said, and admitted that he finds himself fascinated by working for perfection with Rolex, the official timepiece of F1®, just as he did with his F1® teams including Minardi, Jaguar, Williams and Red Bull.

“It is an honour for me to work with Rolex,” he said. “They have a beautiful legacy and an incredible history. And I am still learning so much…”

The driver with the ‘Aussie Grit’ hash-tag remains involved with Porsche, Red Bull and some media work, as well as Rolex, and is working on other ventures including his own range of sporting apparel.

“I’m still going ok,” he said. “I’m doing mountain races and some off-road and I’m still in good shape, despite a few niggles.”

He still has special events to look forward to including being appointed Grand Marshal for the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours race in June, another event like Melbourne’s F1® race that enjoys a special partnership with Rolex.

“Yes, that will be a bit special,” he said, flashing a grin. “I’m starting the race!”

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