An emotional Mark Webber was full of praise for Red Bull Racing after producing a flawless performance that not only consummately delivered the oft-underrated Australian his breakthrough victory in F1 - but also silenced all of the doubters who had said he would never do it.

Webber arrived at the N?rburgring for this weekend's German Grand Prix around the Eifel Mountains circuit fired-up to prove his mettle, having missed out at Silverstone three weeks' earlier when he had arguably been as quick as race-winning team-mate Sebastian Vettel, only to lose out in qualifying and effectively surrender his hopes of race day glory there and then.

On Vettel's home turf, he was determined not to let history repeat itself, and rapid from the off in practice, a superb run in a tricky and treacherous qualifying session earned the New South Wales native his maiden pole position in the top flight after more than 130 attempts.

Just 24 hours later, he was left celebrating his first victory too, but he did not make it easy for himself, after ceding the lead to fellow front row sitter Rubens Barrichello at the start, and then receiving a drive-through penalty for having inadvertently tapped the side of the Brazilian's Brawn GP away from the line.

From thereon in it was a game of catch-up, but the sheer pace of Webber and his Red Bull RB5 was such that nothing was going to deny him this time. One of the most popular successes in the sport in recent memory, it was also inarguably one of the most thoroughly well-deserved given the 32-year-old's leg-breaking mountain-biking accident on his annual Pure Tasmania outdoor adventure challenge for charity last November.

"It's an incredible day," enthused the man from Queanbeyan afterwards. "I wanted to win so badly after Silverstone, as I thought I had a good chance there, then after yesterday's pole I knew I was in a good position to try and win the race today. The only thing that I thought was going to test me was the rain, but even that held off.

"It was testing to get the victory today, though, and I lost Rubens completely at the start; I thought he was gone a little bit to the left, so I went to the right and banged into him. That's not normally my style and I got a drive-through penalty for that, so had to recover. My engineer kept me calm and I pushed as hard as I could when I needed to, so it's a great day.

"It was a difficult winter, [but] Sebastian showed in winter testing what the car could do, so that kept my motivation very high when I was hurting a lot with all the rehab. I had great people around me to recover from all the injuries I had, and the team have been incredibly patient with me as well.

"I want to thank Dietrich Mateschitz, Red Bull and everyone at Red Bull Racing for what they did for me over the winter, everyone in Australia who has supported me on the way through my career - and there are a few people that doubted me too, so hello to them as well. It's just an incredible day for all the people who have helped me get to where I am today."

It was indeed, and the result has ensured Webber heads into the remaining eight grands prix of the campaign every inch a title contender, lying just 1.5 points behind Vettel - runner-up in the race, albeit some way down the road - and 22.5 adrift of long-time leader Jenson Button, whose advantage is seemingly being inexorably reduced race-by-race. What's more, Red Bull has now closed what was at one stage a 43.5-point deficit to Brawn GP down to just 19.5 with 80 points left to play for - and with patently the faster car of the two teams now, it is very much game on.

"A brilliant team performance," underlined the energy drinks-backed outfit's team principal Christian Horner. "A fantastic drive from Mark - he's been on it all weekend and, after all the difficulties that he's been through over the winter, I'm absolutely delighted that's he's managed to get his first win. He thoroughly deserves it. A one-two is a brilliant team result and puts us back in the hunt in both championships. It was an important result for the team, but today belongs to Mark Webber, who is a deserved victor."

"I'm so, so, so happy," echoed Fabrice Lom, principal track support engineer for engine-supplier Renault. "What a race! It was a difficult beginning with a drive-through penalty and starts that were not great, but our car and engine package is so good that we recovered from there to finish first and second - for the second time in a row. It's just magic.

"I'm so happy for Mark; he deserves his first win. We cannot stop thinking about Pierre-Emeric [Benteyn, Webber's former engineer who tragically disappeared during a solo attempt to climb the Glaciar de los Polacos in the Andes back in January], and I want to dedicate Mark's first victory to him - I'm sure he is watching us from above and he would be very happy about what happened today. I'm happy for the team - now let's push for the title!"


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