Mark Webber delighted to leave F1 after enjoying some wheel-to-wheel action
Aussie happy to share podium with "two best guys of our generation"
By William Esler
Last Updated: 25/11/13 7:08am
The Australian driver had to fight his way past Fernando Alonso and the Mercedes cars of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton on the way to a podium finish that secured him third place in the Drivers' Championship in his 215th and final F1 race.
"I am happy with it today," the departing Red Bull driver said.
"I am very proud to have raced with these guys in the end, I raced pretty much all four or five of them at some point in the race today - apart from Seb who was a bit down the road - but it was a good battle for all of us. It was a real pleasure for me to finish today's race like this and also to finish on the podium with arguably the two best guys of our generation at the moment - I hold them in very high esteem. I am happy with the finish and I am ready to go and do something different now and it was a special day for myself and everyone who helped me get here."
In an exciting finale to the 2013 campaign, Webber twice overtook Alonso to claim second place, a result that propelled him above Lewis Hamilton in the standings in his final season in the sport.
"It was a tricky afternoon for us all - strange dry conditions for a Sunday afternoon race - maybe it is what Bernie should do, just have Sunday afternoons, just turn up on Sundays and race from there because it was a pretty good start to the grand prix with all of us getting into the groove with no dry running," he added.
"It was challenging for the teams and the drivers, but we all got there in the end. Both Seb and I had tough starts, so I was happy to just lose out to Lewis and we had a good little scrap as did Fernando and Lewis. Then we settled into it and it looked like the Mercedes were struggling to hold the tempo of Fernando, Seb and myself so we had to clear the Mercs as best as we could, then I was coming up to Fernando and managed to pass him as well.
"There was some really nice moves and some good racing and for the team to get a one-two today with not their cleanest day in the pitlane - but we can let them off now and again because they have had a superb season. We gave the red guys a sniff, but we managed to respond each time."
The Australian will likely incur the wrath of the stewards despite his F1 career being over after driving back to parc ferme without his crash helmet on. Webber explained to Sky Sports F1 that he wanted to allow the fans to see the emotion in the cockpit that is usually hidden away.
"In other sports you have the emotion that people can see - whether it is on a tennis court at Wimbledon or wherever - in our sport it is helmet, gloves, you can't see what is behind the wheel until we get on the podium and you see the emotion there," he told Martin Brundle.
"But I thought it was just nice to get rid of the helmet - which isn't easy with all the HANS device and I thought 'I am committed now, I better not make a meal of getting this off' - but in the end I got there and got it down in my lap away from the wheel and it was really nice. The marshals were great, the fans were awesome and just a nice little touch at the end."
Webber moves to sportscars in 2014, but says he will miss pushing "the ultimate machines" to the limit on special tracks.
"What will I miss most about Formula 1? The special circuits that we race on - Suzuka, Spa, Monte Carlo, Silverstone, even here to a degree - there are some really nice circuits that when you have the car in the window, particularly in qualifying. There is not much that can please the driver more than having the car on the edge and having yourself on the edge in the ultimate machine," he revealed.
"That is something that I will miss, but you also have to respect that you want to make sure you are getting the best out of yourself in that scenario and if you are missing a little bit it is not as rewarding as it once was.
"I think I will also miss the perfection that goes on in this game - particularly at a team like Red Bull - the amount of work that goes in and the detail, it is quite inspiring to watch, the relentless approach with the work is something that I will take to future challenges around the corner."
However, the 37-year-old admits he is looking forward to a less intense work schedule.
"What I won't miss? I am looking to pull the drum back a bit and spend more time with the people that helped me get to where I am - I am not young, but I am not old, so I am in the window to get the balance with a little bit less intensity in the professional life, but when I am working that doesn't mean I am not going to be pushing hard with Porsche," he added.
"But in this game you need to be on it all the time and I am finding that more and more difficult."