Mark Webber is 'a driver capable of exceptional feats' and 'on his way to win the title' in F1 2010 off the back of his strategically brilliant Hungarian Grand Prix triumph last weekend – that is the view of the Australian's manager Flavio Briatore, who tips the current world championship leader's keen intelligence to be the key factor that will see him ultimately lift the laurels.
Webber artfully turned around a situation that looked to have left him high-and-dry in Budapest, when the safety car appeared on lap 14 and the majority of the field dived into the pit-lane to change tyres. Had the New South Wales native done likewise, he would have had to queue up behind race-leading Red Bull Racing team-mate Sebastian Vettel; had he continued on for another lap before pitting, he would have lost countless time and places running at much lower speed behind the safety car – an unenviable dilemma.
So how did he resolve it? He continued on for another 29 laps instead, not only taking the 'Option' tyre into hitherto unchartered territory in terms of durability, but even using it to set fastest lap after fastest lap as he extended his advantage over the duelling Fernando Alonso and Vettel behind him.
So imperious was his performance, that when he did eventually stop for a fresh set of boots, the 33-year-old was able to rejoin again still comfortably in the lead, and when he took the chequered flag for his fourth victory of the campaign – making him once more the 'winningest' competitor of F1 2010 to-date – he regained with it the top spot in the drivers' standings. A few more outings like that, contends Briatore, and he will stay there, too.
“Watch out, Webber is on his way to win the title,” the flamboyant Italian told La Gazzetta dello Sport
. “What he did in Hungary on Sunday was phenomenal – but I'm not tipping Webber just because he is one of my drivers, I only state what everyone has seen from home.
“Mark is a driver capable of exceptional feats. He has now reached a maturity and inner calmness that can take him really far. In Hungary, he was the first one to understand that he could take a risk in running for three-quarter distance on the soft tyres he had at the start. That was the winning move, but it also demonstrated how much he uses his brain, unlike many others.”