Mark Webber says there's now more negatives than positives for him in Formula 1
Aussie frustrated current tyre era is penalising hard-charging drivers
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 21/11/13 7:06pm
Mark Webber says he is leaving F1 because the sport now has more negatives than positives for him.
The Red Bull driver, who came within a whisker of landing the 2010 World Championship but has been forced to play second fiddle to all-conquering team-mate Sebastian Vettel since then, is preparing for his final race in F1 this weekend in Brazil after announcing in June he will leave for a new career in sportscars.
Webber, arguably the plainest-spoken protagonist on the grid, has made no secret of his disdain for the sport's current disposition towards tyre preservation over pace and was typically forthright in Thursday's pre-farewell press conference.
"I wouldn't be leaving unless there were things that I am happy to leave behind," the Australian driver said. "If there were more positives than negatives then I would stay, so obviously there's more negatives than positives.
"I want a new change, a fresh chapter in my life, personally and professionally."
While Webber's notoriously-frosty relationship with Vettel, which plunged new depths in the wake of Malaysia's multi-21 aggravation, has been cited as factor in the veteran's decision to leave F1, his frustration with the sport appears to be far more deep rooted than a mere clash of personalities.
Even as he recalled the most demanding period in his decade-long career F1, Webber's thoughts were framed by his evident disillusion with the current era.
"The hardest cars to drive were in the mid-2000s when we had all the refuelling and the tyre war, those cars were tricky and every time you went out you had to push - there was no such thing as pacing then. It was a tight envelope to operate in, with a lot of power, so those were good times," mused the veteran. "The lap-times floating around back then were pretty impressive.
"We've had a lot of changes during the last three years, the racing has gone through some boring phases so we've introduced DRS and things like that. They have been to the benefit of the sport, but have taken a little of the tradition away, some of the passing moves aren't as difficult as they were in years gone by. It's a little bit fabricated, but it's good for the neutral at home.
"On the tyres we've had some challenging times as drivers, trying to understand them and the heavily-modified pace during races isn't as rewarding as it once was."
In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, conducted at the start of the month, Webber also revealed his conviction that the current brand of racing was particularly penal on drivers of his style.
"The young guys coming through don't know any different yet but it has been getting harder for me on Sundays," he remarked. "High-speed corners are one of my strengths but that's where you kill the tyres. It's so frustrating. The guys will come on the radio and say 'Don't push. Slow it down.' You just feel like there's a lot of stuff falling through the net in terms of what you could bring.
"Vettel is seriously handy, don't get me wrong, but guys like Lewis have been hurt. He just wants to race every lap. And this, at the moment, is just not working for him. But I don't want to leave the sport bitching about how it was so much better in the old days. The guys who are successful deserve their success because they've worked it out."
Sky F1's exclusive interview with Mark Webber will be broadcast in our race-day programme from 3pm on Sunday