Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Formula 1: An Australian conquers Germany

Australian driver Mark Webber of Red Bull Racing collected his first Grand Prix victory this week in the 2009 FIA Formula 1 German Grand Prix in Nurburgring, Gerrmany. This despite crowd support to a number of German drivers in F1, namely: Nick Heidfeld of BMW, Timo Glock of Toyota, Nico Rosberg of Williams, Adrian Sutil of Force India and the most popular of them all, Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, said to follow in the great Schumi’s steps.

After 130 starts in F1, with an uncompetitive stint with Benetton and Jaguar before moving to Red Bull, Webber dominated Qualifying in his flying lap and showed great driving skill and strategy in spite of having been given a 25-second drive through penalty as a result of a minor collision with Brawn driver Rubens Barrichello heading into turn 1 in last Sunday’s race.

Collected and composed, the 32-year old overcame a broken leg and rehabilitation from an accident last November to win for Red Bull and inch closer to championship leader Brawn GP in the Constructor’s title, who as fate would have it, still struggles in cooler track temperatures. After the win, Webber is now 3rd in the Driver’s race overtaking Barrichello, who is now in 4h place. Jenson Button of Brawn still leads over Vettel with half of the 2009 calendar to go.

This year, without a doubt, has become a competitive rivalry between Red Bull and Brawn, much like Ferrari and McLaren a couple of years ago and Ferrari and Renault further back. The Austrian-based energy drink outfit, who is also co-owner of Toro Rosso, is supplied by engine manufacturer Renault while the Woking-based outfit of Ross Brawn is supplied by McLaren. Interestingly, Renault and McLaren (and Ferrari who supplies Toro Rosso) seem to be outpaced by the smaller teams this year.

Webber now has five podium finishes this year, the most he has since starting as a test driver in 2000 for Benetton—three 2nd place finishes, one 3rd place finish and this recent win. This is a much better outcome than former F1 champion Nigel Mansell, who first had his Grand Prix win after more than a 170 starts. Webber can no longer be called “the F1 driver’s bridesmaid.”

The series now moves to Hungary where soaring temperatures could prove to be advantageous to Brawn. But this is Formula 1. Anything can happen.

Stay tuned.


Rumors out of F1 is that Ferrari driver 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen is said to be replaced by Double World Champion Fernando Alonso in 2010 for a 5-year contract. Both sides have since denied this report. But as they say where there’s smoke, a V8 Ferrari purrs.