Mark Webber made his Formula One debut with Minardi in 2002. It was a fairytale first: the team, run by fellow Australian Paul Stoddart, had not scored a point since 1999 and Mark finished his maiden race in fifth place, ending the season as the undisputed rookie of the year. Eleven years after the inevitable start in karts, Webber was beginning to make his mark in the sport’s top discipline. After karts and Formula Ford in his native Australia came the equally inevitable move to England for more single-seater experience and he put his name on the map by winning the prestigious Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch. Formula 3 followed, but then Mark’s career followed a path pioneered by Michael Schumacher, when he was taken on by the Mercedes sports car team.

Unfortunately, Webber’s time with the tin tops is best remembered for twice flipping the car at huge speed at the Le Mans 24 Hours weekend in 1999, through no fault of his own. This led to him racing more sensible cars and he ended up coming into Formula One through the more conventional Formula 3000 route.

Apart from his on-track commitment, Mark is a long-standing director of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, while the end of his F1 season means just one thing – the Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge, which has raised three quarters of a million Australian dollars for charity, not counting last year’s event. Given that we have shamelessly plugged Coulthard’s biography, we are honour-bound to point out that there’s a DVD of the 2007 Challenge available in shops now.

Mark sees most of the great outdoors as something simply to pedal, paddle or punt across. This could be why he chooses to live not in some glamorous rich boy playground, but in beautiful Buckinghamshire, with one of the UK’s best mountain bike courses on his doorstep.

At the British Grand Prix it was confirmed that Mark would be with us again next season and has signed up to drive for Red Bull Racing in 2009. But as DC's retiring, who's going to be his team-mate..?


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