THIS STORY APPEARS IN THE NOVEMBER 27 ISSUE OF MOTORSPORT ILLUSTRATED NEWS
Mark Webber was never going to be one to outstay his welcome. Way back at Silverstone in 2009, the forthright Australian was asked about progress in F1, and answered in typically unsentimental style. “People move on, mate,” he shrugged. “It’s like when Jacques Villeneuve stopped or Juan Pablo Montoya stopped; people forgot about them in two days …”
Webber’s partially tongue-in-cheek comments that day had a pragmatism attached to them that spelled out exactly what he’d do when it was time to depart Formula One. So, after the 215th and final race of a 12-year F1 career at last Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix, his agenda was clear after finishing second for the 42nd podium of his career: get to the airport, return to his home in Buckinghamshire in the English countryside, and walk his dogs on Tuesday. No need for misty eyes, wads of tissues and a conga line of well-wishers waiting to pat him on the back. Job done. People move on, mate …
That Sunday’s season finale was won – again – by Sebastian Vettel was just one of the stories at Interlagos on a weekend of goodbyes. Goodbye to Webber, who, once his dogs were exercised, set his sights on Porsche and its return to Le Mans next season. Goodbye to Felipe Massa from Ferrari, who ended an eight-year stint with the most famous team of all in front of his home Sao Paulo fans and at a circuit where he took the most recent of his 11 career victories in 2008. And goodbye to the sound of Formula One as we know it, with the ear-splitting sound of the 2.4-liter V8 engines set to be replaced by 1.6-liter V6 turbos for next season in the biggest overhaul to the rules governing the sport in decades. Given the way this era finished, it’s a regulatory revolution that can’t come soon enough for everyone bar one driver and his all-conquering team.
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