F1: Mark Webber cherishes 'touching' last hurrah after podium finish signals the end of his Formula One career
Webber was presented with a Brazilian flag signed by all 21 of the other drivers on the grid by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone following his final race for Red Bull
Monday 25 November 2013
It was left to Sebastian Vettel to sign Mark Webber out of Formula One on a day when the four-time world champion added a further two records to his burgeoning collection.
In his 215th and final grand prix before joining Porsche's sportscar programme from next year, Webber at least finished his F1 career on a respectable high.
Once Vettel hit the front at the start of lap two, there was only going to be one winner, and so it proved as the German chalked up his ninth successive win by taking the chequered flag in Brazil.
Vettel has now equalled Alberto Ascari's 60-year-old all-time record for successive victories, whilst also matching Michael Schumacher's 2004 feat of 13 wins in one season.
In finishing runner-up, Webber could do no more, and come the end of the main press conference at Interlagos there came a final surprise.
Up stepped F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to ask Vettel to put his name on a Brazilian flag that already included the signatures of the 20 other drivers on this year's grid.
At first Webber, who has endured an often torrid past history with Vettel during their time with Red Bull, did not appear too impressed as he said: "That was a nice PR stunt!"
Perhaps appreciating he needed to be a little more gracious, the 37-year-old Australian added: "It's special to have all the boys on here (the flag) for my last event.
"The Brazilian flag obviously means so many things, and for Formula One as well, so it's very touching.
"I will obviously treasure it. It's like a trophy to me, so thank you very much."
Webber continued: "It was a very good finish, a good fight with all the guys I've enjoyed fighting with for most of my career.
"It's been a thoroughly enjoyable career. A great journey, one of which I'm proud, and there's been so many people who have played a special role."
On the parade lap after the race Webber did something unique as he removed his helmet and fireproof balaclava to ensure the fans could see him deliver his send-off.
As for Vettel, he performed a doughnut for the fourth consecutive race by way of celebration prior to then dismissing his run of wins compared to that of Ascari.
"It was a different time, the races in the 1950s were much longer, cars breaking down," said Vettel.
"Today, reliability is exceptionally good, so his record stands out a lot.
"One day, when I have less hair and I'm more chubby it will probably be something nice to look back on."
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso completed the top three, with Jenson Button sparing McLaren's blushes with fourth to ensure they avoided the worst season in their history, albeit still one without a podium finish.
Lewis Hamilton was ninth in his Mercedes, that after serving a drive-through penalty for causing a collision with Williams' Valtteri Bottas
Paul Di Resta was 11th in what appears to have been his final drive for Force India, whilst Max Chilton ended the season with his own record.
Chilton became the first rookie to finish every single race in his debut season, with Marussia gaining the all-important 10th place in the constructors' championship.
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