Webber Ends 51 Year Monaco Drought
“This is such a drivers’ circuit; such a test for us all” – Mark Webber
How right he was! Despite a dominant pole position, the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix demanded a long day at the office from Mark Webber, throwing everything it had at him for the length of his journey to become the first Australian to win a Formula One grand prix there since Jack Brabham in 1959.
The Red Bull driver pulled away quickly from a solid, if not amazing, start, building a near fifteen second lead before the first of four safety cars allowed the rest of the pack to reel him in again… and again… and… again… and again.
The safety car even came out for a drain cover, BBC commentators noting that the downforces acting on an F1 car are enough to tear a loose cover from the ground and up through the car.
“He flew in the air and I was just hoping there would be some room to go through on the inside and I would have some options” – Mark Webber
Monaco seemed to be putting Webber through a series of trials, demanding that he earned the right to his place amongst the legendary drivers on its honour roll. His final test came on lap 74, when Jarno Trulli attempted an unconventional passing manoeuvre on Karun Chandhok, driving his Lotus over the top of Chandhok’s HRT and giving him a, thankfully quite polite, pat on the head. The incident occurred just before the apex of Rascasse, as Webber was about to enter the corner. The momentum of the crash pushed the pair to the outside of the corner, off the racing line, allowing Webber to get past unscathed and with his lead intact.
And earn his place he did, in a show of complete confidence, composure and dominance, Webber lead from pole position to the final flag, dodging safety cars, drain covers and a flying Lotus, not to mention a field of the fastest drivers on the planet, to secure victory in the most illustrious race of the F1 season. Jack Brabham is the last Australian to have done this, securing his first Formula One World Championship victory in the Monaco Grand Prix of 1959.
“when Jack was doing the winning back then it started a fire in my dad to keep me interested. That translated in to me as a youngster and to win here on the same streets as Jack did is an amazing thing” – Mark Webber
Brabham had to work similarly hard for his victory in 1959, starting from 3rd place behind Jean Behra’s Ferrari and Stirling Moss’s Cooper-Climax. Behra passed Moss for the lead at the start of the race, but lost the place on lap 22 and retired due to engine failure on lap 23, promoting Brabham to second. Moss encountered transmission problems late in the race and was forced to retire, leaving Brabham in the lead and on his way to his first ever World Championship victory. Amazingly, Phil Hill was able to place fourth despite spinning three times during the course of the grand prix.
An engine blow-up under the first safety car left Button out of the race and Webber was there to capitalise, his win placing him at the top of the championship ladder. It is the first time an Australian has led the Formula One World Championship since Alan Jones in 1981.
It is very early on in the season, but let’s hope Webber’s fantastic performance continues and that he has a solid crack at being the first Australian World Formula One Champion since Alan Jones in 1980.
“I predict a few sore heads in the morning. You have to celebrate your wins and they don’t come any better than this” – Mark Webber
Images via Lothar Spurzem & the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 2.0 Germany Licence, John Chapman & the GNU Free Documentation Licence, iragazzidiredbull, fusky, fisico_6403 & leateds and the Creative Commons Licence