There is an old German proverb which says “the best carpenters make the fewest chips,” it may well be a comment that F1 Champion for 2010 Sebastian Vettel writes in his Christmas card for Red Bull team mate Mark Webber.
Webber looked almost a certainty to be Australia’s first World Champion since Alan Jones in 1980, but it all went horribly wrong on October 24 in Korea when he started second on the grid and failed to finish, crashing out in the monsoon conditions.
The following Grand Prix in Brazil he finished 2nd but team mate Sebastian Vettel was the one to take line honours. This meant that going into the final race of the season he was sitting behind Fernando Alonso and had team mate Vettel behind him in third.
Vettel claimed pole and raced a race that defied his years, and with Alonso and Webber dropping out of contention due to early pit stops claimed the World title. He became the youngest driver ever to take the mantle of F1 World Champion at age 23.
Experts have said that Webber’s career has shown that he is prone to make unnecessary errors, and this year his misjudgement in Korea could well have cost him his one serious chance of a World title. Can he come back stronger next season at 34? Only time will tell. Nigel Mansell finished second in 1991 when many felt he should have won the title and came back the following year aged 39 to claim the title, so it is possible.
But Australia’s hopes of their next F1 World Champion may lie with Western Australia’s Daniel Ricciardo. He topped the times at the first day of Formula One testing on the same Abu Dhabi track that Vettel won his world title on just two days previously. At age 21 he seems assured of an F1 Drive in the very near future and time is on his side.