As promised, I’m digging up the F1 interviews I did last year as part of the lead-up to the 2011 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix!
I started off with Sebastian Vettel, Christian Horner and today it is Mark Webber:
Given only 10 minutes of his valuable time, I tried my best to ask him the entire list of questions that I have prepared. Happy to talk about anything else other than racing, Webber was relaxed throughout the interview. I started by asking Webber what he will be doing today if he was not a Formula One driver.
“I would be a plumber, you know what a plumber is? I did an apprenticeship as a plumber. Or I would have worked at my dad’s petrol station and probably now be running the petrol station,” he said.
But if given the choice to change his life any way he wants it, would he still choose to be an F1 driver?
“Certainly. I’ve enjoyed it a lot and there’s been some exciting times of my life in F1. I’ve met and worked with some very special people, although I’ve also met some dishonest and not very trustworthy people. But in the end it has been very good to me and I hope the things I’ve learnt from F1 will make me a good person even after I’ve stopped racing.”
Webber’s involvement in motorsports started with motorcycles, as his family has a motorcycle dealership. But he started karting at 14 and in two years, was the New South Wales karting state champion. Progressing to Formula Ford, Webber subsequently moved to Formula 3 in 1997. He came in fourth in the British Formula 3 Championship and then started racing in the FIA GT Championship in 1998. He was lured into sports cars next with a works drive for the AMG Mercedes Sportscar Team and in 2000 when he was competing in the FIA International F3000 Championship, he was signed as a test driver for the now-defunct Arrows F1 team.
“Thoughts of becoming an F1 driver came to me when I started to win races in Europe. When you are a young guy, you realise that you have some chance of racing at the high level. But until you get there, then the work really starts. So about 12 years ago in 1997 or 1998, I thought to myself that there was a chance I could race in F1 one day,” he shared about when he first felt that he could become an F1 driver.
For drivers like Webber, Formula One is a profession. They are paid to drive and it’s a job that they have to fulfil.
“I get paid to do a job for the team and that means taking care of the car, performing under pressure, along with lots of things I’m expected to do for the team. I enjoy the job and I’ve had a lot of experience because I’ve been around for a long time now, and some things I’ve always had are like the skills of driving the car,” said Webber who joined Red Bull Racing in 2007.
“However, there are parts of the job that I do not enjoy; like all the travelling, sometimes the media, or sometimes things get a bit frustrating. But it’s all part of the job and everyone has parts of their jobs that they might not like.”
Having been racing in Formula One since he made his debut at the 2002 Australian Grand Prix, Webber is one of the more experienced seniors on the grid today.
“I don’t know how long more I will race in F1. I’ll keep going as long as I continue to enjoy my job – which is not difficult here in Red Bull as I really enjoy working with the guys here. We have been through some tough times and we are looking forward to some good times. It’s very easy to be hungry and motivated towards the job. I always think very open and freely about how I would take every decision when I continue in the sport and I don’t see that changing in the future.”
Come September, you will have a chance to see Webber race on the Marina Bay street circuit here in Singapore.
When asked if he likes night racing, he replied, “Yeah, I think it’s a different part of the sport and it looks spectacular for the TV cameras and still photography. Fans can go to the track late at night and watch the cars instead of being there all day. I am a fan of night racing, but we don’t want to have too many of it.”
What about Singapore?
“I love Singapore. It’s a safe city, it’s clean, and I’ve got some good friends there. There’s a lot that other countries can learn from Singapore.”
Upclose and Personal with Mark Webber
Q: What do you look for in a partner or have you already found her?
A: Well, I need a strong woman. I’ve been with Ann (Neal) for a long time now (since 1995). I need someone who is solid throughout, not of high maintenance, someone whom I can enjoy the company with. A lot of basic ingredients have to be right too of course.
Q: Do you like children? Are you planning on having any in the future?
A: Yes, I like them but at this stage of my life I don’t see that I’m in a position to have any. It’ll be quite difficult to, and I think I would be very very soft and would change a lot mentally if I had the responsibility of being a father. As for planning to have any, we’ll see.
Q: What general advice or life lessons would you share with our readers?
A: Always respect your elders, be honest and truthful with yourself, and be consistent everyday. It is also important to live your life; enjoy what you are doing as something unexpected may just come round the corner.
Q: What do you think of female drivers in general?
A: Female drivers on the road? There are some good ones, but generally females tend to have less confidence behind the wheel compared to men, and they have different ideas of taking risks. Men naturally take more risks, I’m not just referring to on the roads, but that’s just how men are made.
Q: Would you let yourself be driven around by a lady?
A: Yes, I do get driven around quite often actually. Ann drives the car and she doesn’t like to drive the car when I’m in the car with her, but she drives the car fine.