Mark Webber at 200
Mark Webber wins the 2012 Monaco F1 Grand Prix (Image: Red Bull Racing)
Almost forgotten as the fallout from Malaysia lingers and amid rumours of a Porsche WEC berth, Mark Webber chalks up his 200th Grand Prix start on Sunday at Bahrain.
The Australian debuted in 2002 for Minardi, infamously finishing in fifth place at Melbourne despite missing top gear.
Webber went on to race for the likes of Jaguar in 2003–2004, Williams from 2005–2006 and his current employer Red Bull, since 2007, where he has enjoyed the most success of his career.
Nine victories and eleven pole positions is a scarce reflection on his potential, as he has been cast in the shadow of Sebastian Vettel since the German arrived at Milton Keynes in 2009.
Nobody begrudged Webber when he broke through for that elusive first victory at the Nurburgring in 2009. After 130 starts, not even a drive-through penalty could stop the Australian from triumphing, his subsequent radio celebration now legendary.
His 2010 campaign undoubtedly represents his finest hour to date, four victories and leading the standings until the third last race of the season, the ultimate heartbreak and resulting poor 2011 season an indication of how close he came to glory.
Multiple victories at Monaco, Britain and Brazil, circuits which rank amongst the toughest on the calendar are testament to his ability.
Such is Webber’s standing that he has been linked to a seat at Ferrari on multiple occasions — he was offered a drive this season before re-signing with Red Bull.
Most recently, the Australian has been embroiled in team-orders controversy after his team-mate overtook Webber at Malaysia for victory despite being told to hold station.
Whether the outcome results in 2013 being his final campaign, time will tell, but 200 Grands Prix is cause for celebration under any circumstances.
Mark, we salute you, a glass will be raised in honour of your achievement!