Let’s start with the undeniable truth. Red Bull Racing offers Mark Webber the best chance at continued success in F1, by far. By really really far. Consider his options: Let’s say Ferrari calls (unlikely) and offers a ride. Will he have equal opportunities as Fernando Alonso? Sure, and Jim and I will likely get a call from the BBC to replace Brundle and Coulthard and oh, by the way Robin, Perez feels terrible about his early thievery and secedes his Sauber seat. Webber clearly laments number two status, and would no doubt suffer as full Ferrari support heads in Alonso’s direction. Not to mention that the Scuderia insists Massa will stay for 2012.
What about McLaren? Two English world champions that get along famously as teammates and deliver excellent results from two opposite ends of the driving style-o-sphere make up the line up now. Where does Webber fit there? Besides, Button isn’t going anywhere as long as he races in F1 and Hamilton will stay until at least 2013.
And just like that we ruled out the current race winning cars.
The next set of contenders, Mercedes and Renault, are possible but are equally a solid step down in performance, without much promise to rise to championship contender status in the next 12 months. Realistically, both teams require huge gains in performance to compete for race wins, let alone championships. Additionally, Renault places all its hopes on Bobby K (assuming he can return for 2012) and seems pleased with Vitaly’s improvements. As for Mercedes, Nico Rosberg continues to perform and continues to be German, both assets that the Factory Merc team appreciates. Moreover, regardless of anything else, Michael Schumacher remains an icon still in control of his own fate. So I truly doubt either team will look in Webber’s direction.
After that we’re looking at Sauber and STR.
Again, Red Bull Racing remains Mark Webber’s best option for F1 racing. So what can Mark Webber do? His situation would frustrate any driver. To sit in the fastest car on the grid, only to endure subtle yet persistent favoritism of your teammate, must suck! I feel for Mark, very much so. Furthermore, at 34, Mark knows his F1 career is finite. While he now still drives at his peak, that won’t last forever. So he cannot fuss about “maintaining the gap” with what time remains to chase the dream of being World Champion, right?
Mark Webber’s place at Red Bull is akin to Mother Nature, it’s not for him, it’s not against him, it just is. As painful as it is for Webber, he must appreciate the opportunity Red Bull provides: a race winning car and a team that will let him win a championship if he can beat his teammate on their terms. Admittedly that is a very tall order considering that Vettel is monstrously quick. But Webber, when he’s at his best, is capable. His best chance for success is to take a Zen approach when favoritism rears its ugly head; shrug it off and try again. His occasional anger at the team may be justified, but it doesn’t help him towards his goal of winning. It isn’t far. But it is Mark Webber’s best chance to win the Formula 1 World Championship and I, for one, think he can do it.