Mark Webber has retired from Formula One on a high after producing a fine display during today’s Brazilian Grand Prix to finish in second place and set the fastest lap of the race.
Webber had started the race in fourth place, but he made a characteristically-poor start to lose a position off the line. However, he slowly picked off Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso to move back up into second place where he remained for the rest of the race despite the tricky conditions and a mistake in the pits by the team.
“It was a very good finish to my career, a good fight with all the guys I’ve enjoyed fighting with for most of my career,” Webber said on the podium after the race. “Seb, Fernando, Lewis, Nico, all the guys which have been in the window for the last five or six years.”
Webber was quick to thank both his team and his supporters for backing him throughout his eleven year career that has seen him take part in 215 grands prix.
“I want to thank the team, I enjoyed the last few laps, it was a very nice way for me to finish. I want to thank everyone in Australia, I wouldn’t be here where I am without the support I had in the early days, and it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable career.
“A great journey, one which I’m proud of, and there’s been so many people who have played a special role in my career. They know who they all are. Enjoy watching Formula One next year with these guys, but I’m off to Porsche, looking forward to it.”
The Australian driver will move to Porsche’s newly-revived Le Mans programme in 2014, but his final race in Formula One was a memorable one after a fine performance despite the wet conditions. He will be replaced at Red Bull next season by compatriot Daniel Ricciardo.
Valtteri Bottas is confident of scoring a good result in tomorrow’s Russian Grand Prix after qualifying third at the Sochi Autodrom on Saturday.
Bottas finished as the ‘best of the rest’ in Q3 behind the leading Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton, beating the Ferrari drivers to secure P3 for the start of tomorrow’s race.
After a difficult run of form, Bottas believes that he can capitalize on this good qualifying result and make the most of the Williams car’s suitability to the track in Sochi.
“It was a strong job by the team today,” Bottas said. “We managed to set-up the car well and maximize our performance.
“I felt very good in the car all day and managed to get in a rhythm quickly and put in consistent lap times despite the limited number of laps we had completed in practice.
“Tomorrow is where it really matters but I have put myself in a very good position to capitalize.”
Bottas’ teammate, Felipe Massa, was less impressive in qualifying as a mistake and traffic caused him to drop out in Q2, finishing P15.
“I made a mistake at turn eight in my first timed lap in Q2, and then in my final two attempts I came up against a lot of traffic which lost me a lot of time,” Massa explained.
“On my final run my tires were gone at the rear and that was the end of my chances. It’s a shame and I’m very disappointed, but I have a quick car around here so we need to have a good strategy and use our pace to move up into the points tomorrow.”
The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 6:30am ET on Sunday.
Alexander Rossi claimed his third win in as many GP2 Series rounds in Saturday’s feature race at the Sochi Autodrom.
Since winning the last feature race at Monza in Italy, Rossi has made his Formula 1 debut with Manor and also raced for the team at the iconic Suzuka Circuit in Japan.
As part of his deal with Manor, Rossi has returned to GP2 for this weekend’s round in Russia as he bids to finish as runner-up to impending series champion Stoffel Vandoorne.
Vandoorne was expected to be crowned champion on Saturday, but Rossi managed to delay the Belgian’s celebrations by storming to victory as darkness forced officials to shorten the race.
Carnage on the first lap saw four drivers retire from the race, with damage caused to the barrier at turn 3 by Jordan King resulted in a 30 minute red flag delay.
Once the race restarted, a shortened distance of 15 laps was confirmed, but full points were still to be awarded.
Pole-sitter Alex Lynn managed to pull clear through the first stint, and after falling behind Rossi in the first round of pit stops, the DAMS driver regained the advantage soon after.
However, when Lynn crashed out, Rossi was able to pull clear of the chasing Pierre Gasly and Vandoorne just behind to record his third win in as many race weekends by three seconds.
Rossi will start tomorrow’s sprint race from eighth place on the grid which is reversed, handing pole to Frenchman Arthur Pic who finished P8 on Saturday.
You will be able to read all about Alexander’s success in his exclusive NBC Sports blog on Wednesday. To read his pre-Sochi thoughts, click here.