Mark Alan Webber was born on August 27th, 1976 in Queanbeyan, New South Wales in Australia. Mark’s father – Alan – is a motorcycle dealer and Mark is the first Australian Formula One racer since David Brabham in 1994. In his youth, Mark spent time as a ball-boy for the Canberra Raiders rugby league team, but listed French F1 driver Alain Prost as his childhood hero.
Mark started in motor racing at quite late age, not sitting in a kart until 15 years of age. However, Mark took to karting like a duck to water, and in 1993 he won the New South Wales State Championship. In 1994 Mark moved straight into the Formula Ford series, and while he was tutoring drivers between races at Oran Park, he eventually finished the season in 14th place. Webber continued in the series for 1995, and managed several victories, including one at the support race for the Australian Grand Prix. Mark completed the year in fourth place, but started to organize his move to Europe.
In 1995, Mark moved from his native Australia to Britain to help further his already blossoming racing career. Mark earned a test at Snetterton with the Van Dieme team, and after some good results, Webber was retained by the team for the 1996 Formula Ford season. This year was to be better for Mark, and he managed four wins and finished second overall in the standings. Australia voted him their Young Achiever and International Achiever Of The Year.
1997 saw a move to Alan Docking Racing in the Formula Three series, and Webber found success at Brands Hatch in the fourth race of the season, and went on to score a further four podiums and finished in fourth overall. By the end of the year, Mark had been approached by Mercedes-AMG for a sports car drive for 1997. Although Mark initially declined the offer, he later participated in a test at Austria’s A1-Ring. Both were impressed with each other and Mark was signed for the 1998 FIA GT Championship, sitting alongside reigning champion Bernd Schneider. Both drivers drive well all season, winning five of the ten races and only beaten by team mates Ricardo Zonta and Klaus Ludwig by just 8 seconds in the seasons final round at Laguna Seca.
Mark made headlines in 1999 at the Le Mans 24 Hour race by somersaulting his Mercedes Benz CLR on two separate occasions on the Mulsanne straight. However, Webber soon moved to single seaters when he joined forces with fellow countryman Paul Stoddart and his Formula 3000 team – European Racing. 2000 saw Mark as a test driver for Arrows while he competed in Formula 3000. Mark claimed a victory at Silverstone and finished the season in third overall.
2001 saw Webber try out for the Benetton team at Portugal’s Estoril circuit, and the Australian outpaced Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella. His performance earned him a testing role with the team, and took on Benetton team owner Flavio Briatore as a manager. This earned Webber another year in Formula 3000 for the championship winning Super Nova team, but despite winning three times, he was forced to finish second in the title race behind Briton’s Justin Wilson.
In 2002, Mark Webber progressed into Formula One when Paul Stoddart bought the Minardi team and introduced Mark to F1, alongside Malaysian rookie Alex Yoong. In his first race at the Australian Grand Prix, Mark managed something of a rarity for Minardi and scored points, the first for the team in three years. After an impressive debut season, Mark was signed to the Jaguar team for 2003. However, the Jaguar car was not competitive and Mark struggled to finish races. However, his qualifying performances stood out and Mark often positioned his car further up the grid than it really should have been.
The team floundered and was eventually sold off to Red Bull, but Mark had already sought new employment for 2005, moving up to the championship winning team Williams. Although the team had not been competitive for a number of years, Williams was a step in the right direction for Webber, and his no-nonsense attitude sat well with team owners Frank Williams and Patrick Head. Mark managed a podium finish in 2005 at the Monaco Grand Prix, however, this was to be the highlight of his time at Williams.
2006 was considered to be a disastrous year for Williams, despite having all the right ingredients for success. The team had a new engine partner with Cosworth, and partnered to Webber was young charger Nico Rosberg. Everything looked good for the team and winter testing times sent a few shock waves up the paddock. But the promise soon evaporated when it became clear that although the car was quick, it was unreliable. The Cosworth engine failed far too many times and often at critical times when either driver was running well. Mark only scored seven points and finished fourteenth in the overall standings. The disappointment of the season caused Mark to look elsewhere for 2007, and decision that was compounded after a falling out between himself and the teams management during the year.
After much speculation and rumours, it was announced late in 2006 that Webber would be moving to Red Bull Racing to partner the experienced David Coulthard. With Adrian Newey designing the 2007 car, and with the Renault engine in the back, Red Bull appear to be moving up the grid and Mark should be able to improve his form next year.
Unfortunately, while the RBR3 was a reasonably fast car, it was also hopelessly unreliable and Mark failed to finish on seven occasion. A surprise podium came at the Nurburgring, but was put down to the bad weather more than anything else. Webber finished the season with ten points in twelfth and retained his position at Red Bull alongside David Coulthard.
Beyond Formula One
Outside of Formula One, Mark lives with his long-term girlfriend in Buckinghamshire, and is a keen sportsman. Mark organizes the Tasmania Challenge each year – a grueling trek/cycle/kayak across some of the most rugged and inhospitable areas on the planet, and raises a lot of money for charities.