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Mark Webber enjoys track debut at Cadwell Park

Friday, November 06 2015

Former F1 star and current World Endurance Championship leader Mark Webber made his Cadwell Park track debut yesterday (Thursday), driving a Porsche road car on the Lincolnshire track for a Red Bull and Porsche film that will air on redbull.com early next year. He took time out during his commitments to chat to MSV.

Mark, whose 12-year F1 career yielded nine Grand Prix victories, was keen to try out the Lincolnshire Wolds circuit, having missed out on racing there during his formative years. "I've heard a lot about it," he said. "I know that it's an intimate, challenging little track, they call it the mini-[Nürburgring] Nordschleife. I've been fascinated watching bike racing [at Cadwell Park] on TV, and it brings back a lot of early memories for me on these type of tracks in England.

"What hits you here is you don't need to have super long, fast flowing corners to be stimulated, [whilst] there's some fast stuff early in the lap, when you have some very tricky undulations, and different types of kerbing at the apex, it shows you that when these tracks were designed a long time ago, they had a lot of character and they've followed the natural contours of the terrain. They don't build them like this anymore.

"I watch a huge amount of motorbike racing on TV, and when you see the classic photos here of the jump, Australia's Josh Brookes, for example, gets a lot of air, so it's quite wild to have Superbikes here."

After racing Formula Ford in his native Australia, Mark travelled to England to compete in the category, moving up to Formula 3 before being spotted by Mercedes-Benz boss Norbert Haug and selected for their FIA GT squad in 1996. Mark has fond memories from that era of MSV's circuits, including Snetterton and Brands Hatch, where he was a racing instructor. "I was lucky to win some very important races at Brands Hatch in my junior career and Snetterton was really the benchmark for me to do a lot of my homework in testing. I think Formula Ford would have been good fun here [at Cadwell Park]."

Mark's visit to Cadwell Park comes just two weeks before the WEC title decider in Bahrain, where he could win his first World Championship title. Five years ago he headed to the Middle East with a similar shot of glory in F1, and he's hoping that the trip will be a much happier one this time. "It was a tough experience, but one you learn from," he said. "When I lost the championship in 2010, I had led it for a long period, which I haven't really done in WEC, so it's closing it out. What you learn is that it just happens; for example Sebastian [Vettel] led the championship at one race that year, which was the last one and he got that right.

"It was four of us in for a chance at that battle, where there's only two this time, so I don't know what I would have done ultimately differently at Abu Dhabi, but I need to finish Bahrain on the podium."

Mark also said that even if he wins the WEC title with Porsche, he's not ready to retire just yet: "I think it's really nice to win the Sportscar World title, and if we manage to do that in a short period of time with a new team, that's all really cool. In Formula One I just missed the championship, but I had a lot of other special moments which I'm proud of.

"It's human nature; you always want more, some would say you reach the summit when you arrive in F1, but you always strive, and that's why if I get a good result in Bahrain it doesn't mean I stop, I want to keep getting good results next year."

The film will be shown early next year on www.redbull.com/en/motorsports