Mark Webber waved an emotional farewell to Formula 1 racing in Europe as he finally got the podium at Monza he had yearned his whole career.
Speaking after the race Webber signed off with the words ‘Thank you Monza’ – a track which he described as a ‘cruel mistress he had never mastered’ going into the race.
While the Aston Clinton racer actually dropped a place by the chequered flag, finishing third after starting second, the significance of the race went beyond that.
It was Webber’s last race in Europe in what is his last season in Formula 1 and his first ever podium at the Italian track.
It was some way to bow out of Europe, though, standing on one of the noisiest podiums on the Formula 1 calendar.
“It was a great way to end the European season,” Webber said.
“The podium at Monza hangs out over the start-finish straight and you have a sea of fans – most of them waving red flags – underneath, extending all the way down to the first chicane.
“Actually, there was a bit of booing because Seb (Vettel) had won, which I didn’t like, but this race is one of the signature events on the calendar and it was great to experience the podium there.”
Webber slipped to third place on the opening lap, behind team-mate Vettel and the fast-starting Ferrari of Felipe Massa. He then got embroiled in a thrilling dice with Alonso on lap two.
“I braked pretty deep into the second chicane,” Webber said.
“But so did Fernando and he’d already pulled alongside me through Curva Grande and the chess match was over at that point pretty much.
“We touched and I had a bit of front wing damage for the remainder of the race, but it didn’t seem to affect the performance of the car too much because I was very comfortable on the hard tyre at the end of the race.”
Mark was quickly onto the gearbox of second-placed Alonso, but it was his own gearbox that prevented him from mounting a serious challenge on the Ferrari driver. He had to short-shift in second gear, which affected his exit from the slow chicanes.
“That was a bit frustrating because I was happy with my tyres and was in a good rhythm. But it was important to get to the end of the race and I did what was necessary. All in all, it’s been a good weekend for myself and the team. Thank you Monza.”