Tears, anger, uncertainty as long and hard 2013 Formula 1 season closes in Brazil
25 November, 2013
Straight talking, no bull Mark Webber raced into Formula 1 retirement with one final show of irreverence. On the way to the Interlagos podium after finishing second, he took off his helmet to savour the very last garnd prix lap in the cockpit of a Red Bull.
Told that he seemed to be tearing up as he took in the emotion of his last-ever lap, the popular Australian veteran replied afterwards: “It was [just] the wind.”
Webber, who is now released from his Red Bull contract in order to get an early start to his new Le Mans career, admitted driving around without a helmet was also not the kindest thing he could have done to his ears.
And he said he got his helmet and Hans device “jammed” against the steering wheel, making it difficult to negotiate the final corners on the way into parc ferme.
“But it was good to get it off, obviously the marshals, the fans, to see…in this sport, it’s not always easy to show the person that’s behind the wheel,” said Webber.
Later, he slipped and fell on the podium, and the usually flawless Red Bull crew also messed up a couple of pitstops.
But overall, it has been a frighteningly dominant display by the Milton-Keynes based team in 2013, led by Sebastian Vettel, who continues to sweep up all-time records.
Webber, however, fell 43 points shy of finishing as the Championship runner-up behind his German teammate.
So he paid tribute to the actual 2013 runner-up, his Ferrari-racing friend Fernando Alonso, and also his own imperious teammate, Vettel.
“Yeah, a very good finish to my career, a good fight with all the guys I’ve enjoyed fighting with for most of my career: Seb, Fernando, Lewis, Nico, all the guys who have been in the window for the last five or six years,” said Webber.
But while Alonso managed second place for himself, Ferrari ultimately finished the season just third in the Constructors’ Championship – and furious with the outcome of Sunday’s Brazilian finale.
Indeed, had Felipe Massa not been punished by the stewards for crossing the white line of the pitlane entry in his Ferrari farewell, the Italian team would probably have beaten Mercedes to the extra millions for second place.
Massa, racing in front of his home crowd in red overalls for the last time, was furious.
“Unacceptable!” he fumed on the radio as he shook his fist. Referring to the FIA officials, Massa said afterwards: “These guys think they have all the power and they can do what they want so I am more sorry for them than for me.”
Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn admitted that his drivers, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, had reported Massa’s driving over the radio.
“They were telling us that Felipe was driving with all four wheels over the line repeatedly,” he is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.
Had Massa remained in fourth place, Alonso would have moved over to gift his podium place to the native Paulista for a fitting Ferrari farewell in front of his fans, he said, “When I saw him fourth I thought this would be a very good celebration for him.”
Massa confirmed: “I am sure that if I had found myself behind Fernando, he’d have let me pass.”
Daniel Ricciardo scored a point in his final race for Toro Rosso, the Australian moving to Red Bull as replacement for Webber.
“At midnight tonight (Sunday) I become an Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver, but for now I just want to say thank you to everyone at Scuderia Toro Rosso, here at the track, back in Faenza and at our wind tunnel for two fantastic years. Thanks guys!” said Ricciardo with his trademark smile.
Also departing from his current team, but with an uncertain future, is Pastor Maldonado who drove his final race for Williams after a season fraught with frustration which ultimately will be remembered for his allegations that the team sabotaged him during the US GP weekend.
The high point of the partnership was without doubt the victory Maldonado scored at the 2013 Spanish GP. He said at the end of his last day with the team, “It’s been a great three years with this team, I had a nice moment with Frank and the team this morning and they will stay in my heart forever.”
Sergio Perez delivered one of his best performances in his final race as a McLaren driver and summed up his sentiments after the race, “I’ve learnt so much from everyone at McLaren, the best team I’ve ever raced with, and I wish every single one of them all the best for the future. I wish Jenson and Kevin all the best for the future, too.”
“I think I’ve grown up a lot this year – both as a racing driver and as a man – and I think I’ll be an even stronger competitor in future as a result,” added the Mexican whose future remains uncertain.
Others uncertain about the future include: Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Gutierrez, Heikki Kovalainen, Paul Di Resta, Charles Pic, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton.
The final race of the season also marked the end of the road for the current chapter of Cosworth as a Formula 1 engine supplier. Next year Marussia, their last ever F1 customer, will enjoy Ferrari power. (GMM-Apex)
Subbed by AJN.