Webber ready to take you for a ride
FOR 11 years Mark Webber rubbed shoulders with the great and good of Formula One.
During his time on the top tracks around the world, the country boy from Queanbeyan got to know the drivers as he drove for Minardi, Red Bull, Jaguar and Williams.
Now he uses that ‘inside knowledge’ to spread the word about the sport he loves.
Webber, now 43, pulled the pin on his motor racing career in 2016 during which he won nine F1 races and had 42 podium finishes before moving to the World Endurance Championships with Porsche, but now stays as close as the action as he can. He will be part of the Channel 10 team for the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, which ushers in the start of the 2020 F1 season.
Webber says having raced alongside five-time world champion Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel gives him the edge when it comes to bringing the sport to an Australian audience.
“No question about it, helps,” Webber says of his time in the sport.
“I have been in the business now for 20 years and it’s so nice to walk around and be able to get a quick chat with someone and that comes from time within that industry. You can ask some bare and open questions.”
Webber says he feels comfortable in his role with Channel 10 but says it is important to make the viewer feel part of the action.
“If you want me to commentate on a horse race, I think that would be quite challenging and I wouldn’t be very good at it,” he says. ”But I know how TV works and it makes complete sense that I am in a position to be able to use my contacts. I am not super technical. I can get into that, but I want to bring the people at home closer to the sport and understand it in a way which is not bamboozling for them.
“As I have learned, some people really love hearing about the things that might be obvious to me but I like expanding on those points and give people an opportunity to think about what the drivers are going through.
“There will be a little bit of technical stuff but we don’t go flat out on tyre pressures or things like that because people are following heroes.
“They want the emotional side, so we put a bit of tech in there but don’t go crazy.”
Webber says he is very proud of what the Australian Grand Prix has become down the years, calling the event one of the best on the sporting calendar.
“From a tourism aspect its ginormous to have the best drivers in the world here, to have massive crowds is great and I am patriotic towards it,” he says.
“The track is really special on your own. It can be a little bit frustrating sometimes in terms of trying to get a passing move done.”
For the record, Webber says defending champion Lewis Hamilton will again be the one to beat but he won’t have it all his own way.
“It will be tighter than last year,” he says.
“ I think he will be pushed by Max Verstappen (Red Bull). It’s exciting and I can’t wait.”
Ten’s coverage of the Melbourne Grand Prix airs daily from tomorrow through Sunday.