Mark Webber reflected that he has come a long way over the past decade, from his previous victory around the narrow, tortuous streets of Monte Carlo to his imperious maiden Monaco Grand Prix victory for Red Bull Racing last weekend – transforming himself in the process from an impoverished young hopeful forced to stay in a cramped room in 'an old brothel' to the new favourite for F1 2010 World Championship glory.
Back in 2001, Webber tamed the Principality's unforgiving concrete barriers to mount the top step of the rostrum in the International F3000 race there, and having since similarly shone there with a podium finish for Williams in 2005 and fourth place for Red Bull two years ago, the Australian's unchallenged success in 2010 was beyond a shadow of a doubt the crowning glory of a remarkable rise to prominence in recent weeks – and a rather different experience to nine years ago...
“When I was on pole position here last time, I shared a room with Anne, my father and someone else,” he reflected. “There were a lot of us in the room because we didn't have much money, but my father was snoring like hell all night and I got no sleep, so in the middle of the night I got the mattress and threw it upside down and said 'I'm on pole position tomorrow, I have to sleep!' I think it was an old brothel where we were staying. I had a much better night's sleep this time, when I was on pole.
“To win here in any category is a special day. Yeah, my F3000 race was nice here, but obviously this is the biggest Formula 1 race you can probably win. Absolutely incredible – to win in Monaco is very, very special, a dream for any Formula 1 driver. The team deserves it, there's no question about it – and you have to enjoy your victories.
“It is a very, very special event; every Formula 1 victory is special, but to win on the streets here fair-and-square off pole, controlling the race from the front [with] no attrition again, that's nice. To join such great winners here is a really special moment for me. I was reminded that Jack Brabham won here in 1959, so it has been a while for the Australians.”
Something else that has been a while for his countrymen is title glory in the top flight, with Alan Jones the last Aussie to lift the ultimate laurels, three full decades ago. Whilst being quick to play down notions that he is now also in pole position to march to the world championship come season's end, the 33-year-old admitted that as he heads next to Istanbul atop the points standings and with the fastest car in the field underneath him, he is not exactly 'low on confidence' right now.
“We are not here because we have been slacking,” he underlined, after predicting 'a pretty dangerous night for Red Bull' after the race and 'some very bad headaches in the morning'. “The effort has gone in from two-and-a-half-years ago – this is not just the sake of the last two weeks' work. This has been a continuous effort off the back of the RB5 into RB6, [with] fantastic continuity within the team – Rob Marshall, Adrian Newey, it's impossible to mention everyone.
“We have just got to keep going to each venue and continue to work hard. Of course it would be nice if it was the last race now, but it is not. We have got a lot of work to do. We are very optimistic for the future and we did the maximum we could do here; it was the best result we could get, and we need to try and make that as often as possible.
“At the end of the day we've got some bigger goals to achieve this year, but this is a very, very unique day for the team. There were a lot of firsts last year, and to get a one-two in the Principality for the team [is] sensational – and for sure I'm not low on confidence at the moment. It's two races we've done well in. If you're doing this three or four, five times, in terms of good results in a row, podiums and what-not, then for sure that is a good run – in any sport, you can talk as much as you want but actions speak louder than words