Mark Webber has confessed that he came close to walking away from F1 after getting 'pretty low' and 'losing his motivation' for a while during his time at Williams several years ago – as he re-iterated that should he go on to claim the world championship crown in 2010, 'that may do me'.
Webber competed for Williams for two seasons in 2005 and 2006, but whilst the first of those campaigns was a relatively successful one – with his maiden podium in Monaco and nine further finishes inside the points – the second was not, as the former multiple world championship-winning Grove-based outfit fell increasingly from the pace and the Australian was able to notch up just seven points after troubling the scorers on only three occasions.
His perceived reputation inside the paddock was suddenly no longer that of a coming-man off the back of his impressive showings for previous teams Minardi and Jaguar, but rather a journeyman simply treading water as what he had thought was his break into the big-time had the misfortune to coincide with Williams' descent from race-winning competitiveness into midfield invisibility. With blame mutual between team and driver at the time, Webber now admits that he felt more than just burned-out.
“I got pretty low during my time with Williams,” the 34-year-old told the Herald Sun
newspaper. “I think most people at this level have similar levels of talent, and you have to be the one who wants it the most. There was a stage when I didn't.
“I think a lot of people may want to throw the towel in at times, but I considered it during my Williams days. That was very tough. I lost my motivation for about six months; I mean, it's not like in other sports where you can take some time off [and] maybe pick and choose your events.”
Webber's salvation – even though it may not have looked that way at the time – was a switch to Red Bull Racing in 2007, and three years later the New South Wales native finds himself a genuine title contender, lying just three points adrift of world championship leader Lewis Hamilton with six grands prix left to run and having triumphed in more races than any other driver in F1 2010 thus far.
However, he has conceded that he is still suffering to a certain extent with pain from the leg he badly broke prior to the 2009 campaign, and is unwilling to commit his future to any longer than the end of next year in case the 'fire' suddenly goes out.
“I have had a few niggles and dramas, but I won't go into it too much,” the six-time grand prix-winner reflected. “No, it's fine. If I win the world championship, well, that may do me. I'd be a very content man.”