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Mark Webber column

Mark Webber
By Mark Webber
Red Bull F1 driver


Silverstone has a special place in my heart and I always look forward to the British Grand Prix.

It has been a pretty good track for me over the years and I have a lot of good memories there. It is definitely my second home race after Melbourne.

Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari at Silverstone last year
The British Grand Prix is one of the year's stand-out events for Webber
The first race I did when I first came over to England from Australia was at Silverstone. I have won there in Formula Ford, Formula 3000 and world sportscars and been on pole there in Formula Three. I also live not far away.

It is made even more special by the history of the place and the fact that so many teams are based here in the UK.

The popularity of Formula One here never fails to amaze me - the number of people who came to the test we had there last week just blows you away.

If the weather is nice, the Grand Prix itself is a very good sporting event - although it would be even better if they could sort out the politics and get things like touring cars and F3 back as support races. It was awesome when they were both on the same bill a few years back.

I even reckon they should try to get MotoGP there as well one day. That would make a really great event.

It is a shame there is always a discussion about the race's place on the calendar.

I would like us to keep as many of those trademark venues as we can.

Silverstone comes in for a lot of criticism but it is one of the better venues at the moment, if not the best

Mark Webber
We do need to go with the flow - and go where the sport needs to be to grown - but we have already lost Imola, Suzuka and some others. And we cannot afford to lose Silverstone, Monza, Spa, circuits like that.

We need a British Grand Prix because of the history that surrounds it and the industry that supports it. It is so deep-rooted.

I am not that bothered about the venue but Silverstone is probably the best place to have it.

It comes in for a lot of criticism from Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone but I went up there a few weeks ago on my way back from Bahrain and I was just blown away by it. Everything was top dollar.

The lawns looked beautiful. The flags were all freshly pressed. I thought: "Wow, they're trying hard."

There are always areas you can improve - the garages are tight, for example - but everything else is pretty good. Silverstone is one of the better venues, if not the best venue, at the moment.

Having said that, I am sure Bernie is not bluffing with his threats. It is his train set and he can put the rails down as he likes.

Lewis Hamilton
Hamilton has made errors - but knows he just needs to get his head down
One day he might follow through with what he is saying. It needs to be respected that there are other countries pushing to host a race.

We do not have to have anything - whether it is a race in Britain or Australia. Having said that, we have had a British Grand Prix for 60 years and I think Bernie would probably think it would be wrong not to have one.

The race this weekend is going to be between Ferrari and McLaren - they are going to absolutely walk it.

There have been a few mistakes this season from Lewis Hamilton and McLaren. Lewis is under pressure to deliver but he knows as well as anyone that the best thing he can do is just get in and drive the car.

McLaren had a pretty good week testing there but Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen is normally pretty sharp at Silverstone and I think he will be hard to beat.

For myself, I have had a busy few days running up to the race. There was the test last week at Silverstone, then I went to the British Speedway Grand Prix in Cardiff on Saturday night.

It was a great night's entertainment and it was made even better because an Aussie, Jason Crump, won it.

Another Aussie, Leigh Adams, who came up to the Silverstone F1 test, was taken out by a Danish rider who caused a bit of controversy and got booed.

There was a great atmosphere in the Millennium stadium and the racing was brilliant - side by side, touching each other and a bit of controversy as well.

606: DEBATE
Davidp61
I also did a mountain bike race at the weekend and I was at Wimbledon doing some work for BBC Radio 5 Live on Monday - I fancy Nadal this year; they say big Roger is not hitting it as well as he did.

Then I went to Monaco for an appointment on Tuesday and was back in the UK for an F1 charity event in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital on Wednesday evening.

I will be keeping an eye on the tennis over the Silverstone weekend and also on the start of the Tour de France.

I am a big general sports fan and, while MotoGP is probably my second favourite sport, I do enjoy the Tour, especially the mountain stages.

I have a love-hate relationship with cycling. I love riding my bike but, unfortunately, with some sports you just do not know what you are watching.

It is always a bit disappointing hearing all the drugs stories - Tom Boonen was the latest one when he tested positive for cocaine recently.

When I watch the Tour, I am massively more pro than anti. I like to try to believe it is all kosher and they are doing it on cornflakes but you just never know. There is always that doubt in your mind about whether it is on the level.

Lance Armstrong and Mark Webber
Webber has learnt about the demands on elite cyclists from Lance Armstrong
Basically, though, those guys are amazing and I have been able to get a bit of an insight into just how incredible they are through my friendship with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who I have known for a few years.

I have been out on a few rides with Lance and we have talked about our jobs.

The hardest thing for him was the training - the volume of work he did was immense. Then there is controlling your weight. Power to weight is the big thing for cyclists.

Your body is turning into a machine and you have to learn how to feed that body - put enough petrol in the tank, make sure you're not carrying any extra fat and that you have enough power to have the right amount of energy.

Lance said he was always constantly playing the numbers on the weight. It is a massive sacrifice they go through.

I am in awe of the distances they can cover in a day - the peloton is averaging 45-50km/h. And then you have the ascending and descending when they go up big mountain stages.

You are talking 22km of average 9-10% incline. Just imagine how relentless that is.

Then they have to descend at 65mph, with newspapers stuffed down the inside of their jerseys to keep warm. It is a very special event.

Mark Webber was talking to Andrew Benson




see also
Hamilton upbeat for Silverstone
26 Jun 08 |  Formula One
Raikkonen problem gifts Massa win
22 Jun 08 |  Formula One
F1 drivers fume over licence hike
19 Jun 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber column
26 May 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber column
22 May 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber column
28 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber column
19 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Mosley scandal 'has disgraced F1'
19 Apr 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber column
25 Mar 08 |  Formula One
Mark Webber column
12 Mar 08 |  Formula One


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