In his moment of triumph in Germany on Sunday, Mark Webber had a brief flashback to the day last November when he lay on a Tasmanian road nursing a broken right leg following a cycling accident.
"The pain was pretty bad and I knew straight away that my lower leg was broken," he said after the incident. And as he celebrated becoming only the third Australian ever to win a grand prix, he admitted that recovery had been difficult. He had 83 days in which to regain his fitness ready to take on the challenge of rising star Sebastian Vettel as his team-mate at Red Bull Racing. He made it in time to test before his home race in Melbourne at the end of March, but revealed on Sunday: "I was kidding myself. I thought I was ready but I wasn’t, the leg was still broken and it was only a rod and some screws that were holding it together. But I have some fantastic people around me, like my physio Roger Cleary. He had me walking in the swimming pool in the first part of January and that was hard... But there is always someone worse off, and from the lap times Seb was doing in testing I knew our car was going to be quick, so that was incredible motivation."
Nobody has ever had to wait so long to break through as the man from Queanbean in New South Wales, who turned the corner in his 130th grand prix. Ironically, the previous longest-waiting drivers were two of the men he is fighting for the world championship: Brawn drivers Rubens Barrichello (124 races) and Jenson Button (113).
But Webber had no doubt that the wait just made things even better. "It was an incredible day for me, I wanted to win so badly. I thought I had a good chance at Silverstone, and after taking the pole here I knew I was in a good position. The only thing that could test me more was rain, but that held off. I was able to control the race and towards the end I eased off. There was no reason to finish 20s ahead when 10 will do. As that great Australian driver Jack Brabham would say, there’s no need to win at the highest speed. I was thinking of him today. I want to thank everyone in Australia who supported me, and also to say hello to those who doubted me!"
Webber believes that he can now challenge Button for the title. "Both titles are still up for grabs," he said, "and we are taking the fight as hard as we can to Brawn. They are leading because they deserve to, but we aren’t giving up and are working hard to make a car that is consistent at all venues. Our biggest problem in our factory is building a big enough trophy cabinet."
Elsewhere in F1, Sebastien Bourdais has lost his drive at Toro Rosso and will be replaced by Spanish driver Jamie Alguersuari, the reigning British F3 champion.Reuse content