Webber relishing return to the Nurburgring

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Mark Webber may have confirmed last week that he would be retiring from Formula One at the end of the season, but it is important to remember where his career really began to take off.

In 2009, Red Bull scored their first GP victory at the Chinese Grand Prix through Sebastian Vettel, leaving Webber winless as the season wore on. At the German Grand Prix, he made a good start but was given a drive-through penalty, appearing to scupper all hopes of the Aussie winning for the first time. He rallied though, producing an astounding performance to still win the race, causing a rather memorable radio celebration afterwards.

Ever since, the circuit has remained a favorite of Webber’s, and he is relishing a return to the Nurburgring.

When asked what his favorite memory at the track was, Webber said: “My first Formula One win there in 2009. That’s got to be my best memory from that circuit by far and one of the best of my whole career.

“It was such a special day and to win it in the style that we did that day was incredible.”

It did require a titanic effort from Webber and the entire team at Red Bull to claw their way back into the race, with the dominant Brawns struggling on the Bridgestone tires.

Webber is also happier to be racing at the Nurburgring than at Hockenheim, with the two circuits alternating as hosts for the German Grand Prix.

“I prefer the Nurburgring to Hockenheim; it’s got a bit of character about it, with some old school camber changes and old kerbs. The best part is turns 5 and 6, the fast left which goes into the tight right.”

The circuit is certainly a favorite among fans and drivers, and if the last two races there are anything to go by, we are set for a thrilling race on Sunday.

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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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.

Follow @KyleMLavigne