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How Mark Webber’s car put Daniel Ricciardo on the F1 map

By Cameron Kirby, 29 May 2019 Motorsport

Daniel Ricciardo Mark Webber

Australia’s current Formula 1 star made a name for himself in a car that now resides in Webber’s personal collection

While Daniel Ricciardo and Mark Webber briefly competed in Formula 1 at the same time, it was at opposite ends of the grid.

In 2011, while Webber competed for the then-dominant Red Bull Racing, Ricciardo was earning his stripes for the struggling Hispania Racing. Eventually, Webber would retire from F1 in 2013 to end his career in LMP1 driving for Porsche, with his vacated seat being filled by Ricciardo.

However, it was three years earlier that the two’s careers became inextricably linked.

In 2010 Ricciardo drove for Red Bull at the end-of-year Young Drivers Test at Abu Dhabi, held following the final race of the season.

It was a key moment in the Honey Badger’s career, setting the fastest time on both days, and going quicker than Sebastian Vettel’s pole time from the grand prix.

His pace was instantly recognised in the paddock and set Ricciardo on the path to F1 stardom. Thing is, it turns out the car that Ricciardo used to make his name is now owned by Mark Webber.

When re-signing for the English-based Red Bull team, Webber decided to work a handy deal into the fine print.

"As part of our contract negotiations we said, 'at the end of the year, can we have a car?',” he told the V8 Sleuth podcast.

Unfortunately for Webber, his first choice to take home at the end of the season didn’t make it after a 305km/h airborne tumble after colliding with the rear of Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus at that year’s Valencia Grand Prix.

“I won Monaco in 2010 but I destroyed that car in Valencia, so I went to the next-best car – (from) when I said: 'Not bad for a No.2 driver…',” Webber explained.

Thing is, that particular chassis had enjoyed quite the journey. It was driven initially by teammate and arch-rival Sebastian Vettel at the start of the season.

"That one's got a bit of history, that's a good car to own. Sebastian won the Malaysian GP in it that year, and I won the Hungarian and British GP. There's a lot of fastest laps and podiums … it's a pretty special chassis, that one,” Webber added.

Vettel dubbed the car ‘Luscious Liz’ and was last used by the German finger waver at the Monaco Grand Prix when he finished second behind Webber.

The then-titleless Vettel complained of a handling issue with the chassis and was gifted a new car for the Turkish Grand Prix, where he infamously crashed into Webber, starting what would be one of F1’s most infamous intra-team rivalries.

Red Bull combed over the chassis and found an almost invisible crack, which was subsequently repaired, and the car was returned to service for the British Grand Prix at the hands of Webber.

MORE Mark Webber: Beyond the Circuit

Again, the car became a point of controversy between Webber and Vettel. Red Bull had brought a pair of newly designed front wings to the race. Only thing was, Vettel broke his and was given Webber’s wing for qualifying. The Australian was understandably furious at the decision, and his anger fuelled him to victory on Sunday, prompting the famous radio call to his team after claiming the win.

While the chassis holds some positive memories for Webber, it is also central to some heartbreak. The Aussie drove the chassis for the last time at the South Korean Grand Prix, where he crashed in soaking wet conditions, effectively ending his chance at winning the 2010 title.

"Red Bull, the guys did an absolute incredible (restoration) job,” Webber said.

“That car is absolutely as it crossed the line [at Silverstone]. Beautiful, beautiful car. Everything, right (down) to the sticker of the British Grand Prix for 2010. That car is in a museum at the moment and will be in the new Silverstone museum when it opens."

While it is currently on display, Webber’s former Porsche LMP1 teammate Timo Bernhard is pestering the retired F1 pilot to bring it out for a play at the track.

"It could run, but I think I'd need 15 (Renault engineers) over to have a test day somewhere with it,” he explained.

“Timo Bernhard, my teammate at Porsche, has always been busting my nuts that 'we've got to do a track day!' But I'm not as enthusiastic as he is!”

While Timo might be keen to jump into the car, like Webber, Daniel Ricciardo might also have bittersweet memories about sliding into this Red Bull again. While this chassis made his name in the F1 paddock, the Australian may well rue the fact that his five Red Bull seasons just happened to coincide with Mercedes-AMG’s dominance and ended without any great fanfare. Not bad for a number two driver does indeed seem a common refrain.

MORE Ricciardo warned no race wins until 2020 at Renault