Mark Webber's time at the top was sadly overshadowed. (Image: Red Bull Racing)

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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!

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