The 2013 Bahrain Grand Prix holds a particularly special meaning for Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber, as he will celebrate his 200th grand prix today.
Webber made his debut in 2002 for backmarkers Minardi, before spending a couple of years with Jaguar and then moving to Williams for the 2005 season. He found some success with the British team, but he opted to move to Red Bull in 2007 to partner David Coulthard. In 2009, he was joined by Sebastian Vettel in what turned out to be Red Bull’s breakthrough season. Webber won his first grand prix in Germany, and then scored his second win in Brazil on his way to 4th in the championship.
2010 saw Webber win four races, but he missed out on the world championship at the final race, eventually finishing third behind champion Vettel and Fernando Alonso. 2011 saw Vettel run away with the title, and Webber played a support role, claiming just one win in Brazil. However, he was back to his best in 2012 to win for a second time in Monaco, and also win his first British Grand Prix. He could not keep up with Vettel and Alonso towards the end of the season though, and he eventually finished the championship in sixth place.
Webber’s career has seen some spectacular highs, and many regard him as the second greatest Australian driver of all time behind triple champion Jack Brabham. His team honored him this morning with a cake and celebration in the Red Bull garage, and he will be hoping to make it a 200th race to remember despite starting 7th on the grid.
Sebastian Vettel and Helmut Marko did not attend the celebration this morning.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.