Former world champion Alan Jones is still backing Red Bull’s Mark Webber to end Australia’s long wait for a Formula One grand prix winner.
“I think Mark Webber will win a grand prix, I think he’s capable of winning a grand prix,” the 1980 world champion and last Australian to win a Formula One race told Reuters.
“He needs to have a bit of luck go his way, although it’s a bit silly to say that,” added the 61-year-old, in Britain as Australian team director for the final round of the A1 GP series at Brands Hatch on Sunday.
“I can always remember (Formula One supremo) Bernie Ecclestone being asked about a driver many years ago and they said ‘listen, you should give him a go — he’s a bloody good driver, he just has bad luck’.
“Bernie turned around to the bloke and said ‘well, who needs a driver with bad luck?'”
Webber has had his fair share of bad luck over the seasons, notably in last year’s rain-hit Japanese Grand Prix where he was in second place until Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel ran into the back of him.
Until he finished third with Williams at Monaco in 2005, fifth place with Minardi in his home debut in 2002 remained Webber’s best result.
However the Australian has been consistently strong in qualifying with his various teams and last weekend in Spain finished fifth for his best result since last July’s third place at the Nuerburgring.
“They are starting to get more reliability into this Red Bull team and I think Mark’s fifth position at the last grand prix showed he’s certainly got the pace,” said Jones, who recorded his last win in 1981.
“He’s always up there in qualifying and I think if he starts to get a bit more reliability there’s no reason why we can’t see Mark as a grand prix winner.
“I think Red Bull are getting their act together.
“They are getting reliability, I think they are getting the pace so who knows?”
Williams are celebrating 30 years of Williams Grand Prix Engineering this year and Jones, the team’s first world champion, has always been held up as the archetypal Williams driver — a straight-talking, no-nonsense Aussie who never needed anyone to hold his hand.
He, Frank Williams and co-owner Patrick Head remain firm friends and Jones is still a loyal supporter of the team who last won a race in 2004 and a title in 1997 after dominating much of the 1980s and 1990s.
“I’ve been saying this for years and thank goodness they are starting to come good now, because they are too good a team to discount,” said Jones.
“Williams are a team that are just too good. They will come back and they will come back strong.”
The Australian pointed out that Ferrari, so dominant with Michael Schumacher in the early years of the century, also had lean times — winning just two races between 1990 and 1996.
“I think Williams have got the resources and the technology and the people that are needed to do the job and I’m sure they will,” he said.
Jones said A1, the self-styled World Cup of Motorsport, appealed to him even if it was very different to Formula One because he liked the concept of nation against nation in equal equipment.
“Number one, I love motorsport,” he said.
“And number two, it (A1) gives me an opportunity to continue in an international motorsport career without obviously having my bum in the car.”