On the eve of this year’s Australian Formula One Grand Prix, former Aussie ace Mark Webber has been appointed as an ambassador for Michelin, the tyre that took him to his first F1 race at Albert Park in 2002.
Webber, who is also a Porsche motorsport representative and has tested the new electric Taycan, said he still has vivid memories of his first F1 race – with the underdog Minardi team – even though it was 17 years ago.
“My first Formula One weekend I remember very clearly,” said Webber. “It was in Albert Park in Melbourne, huge crowd and a huge interest on my performance. I had to block all that out.
“I was clearly super inexperienced but I knew that I had a great chance to show people what I could do. I just had so much trust in the tyre and I could push it to the limit.”
Then, Webber said, his motor racing career “got very serious very quickly”. And while his F1 career had “some of the biggest highs of my life”, Webber admits he has regrets and that the sport was harder than he imagined.
“You think about what could have been done better,” said Webber. “Naturally I’ve got so many regrets, that you sort of think there’s so many mistakes you make because that’s what we do: put ourselves on the limit all the time. ‘If I just didn’t do that …’ I’d have a different trophy cabinet,” he said.
“You’re so naive when you start out. If you know what you’re in for you’d probably never start out,” said Webber.
As part of the Michelin ambassador program, Webber will be joined by Porsche and GT race ace Matt Campbell, New Zealand Porsche racer and V8 Supercar co-driver Earl Bamber, and fellow Kiwi and GT racer Jaxon Evans.
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling