Mark Webber ended his European F1 career with a first visit to the unique podium at Monza, giving him a chance to sample the rare atmosphere after an Italian Grand Prix.
Incredibly, the Australian - who quits F1 and heads back to sportscar racing next season – had never better fifth place at the Autodromo Nazionale in 13 previous attempts, but made the most of a handy Red Bull to come home in third position after a spirited – but handicapped – pursuit of home favourite Fernando Alonso.
Having made a bid for the lead off the line - where he had started alongside RBR team-mate Sebastian Vettel – Webber found himself out-muscled by Felipe Massa through the first chicane, and then fell to fourth when Alonso gave no quarter at Roggia several laps later. The Australian refused to be dropped, however, and, having got ahead of Massa during the pit-stop window, closed back in on Alonso before being warned of a gearbox problem.
Despite having to short-shift between second and third, he maintained his pursuit to the line, eventually taking the flag just 0.8secs shy of making it a Red Bull 1-2.
“We had to nurse the gearbox a bit at the end but, overall, it was a good result,” Webber insisted, “I had a good [early] battle with Fernando, fair play to him on that, and, afterwards, I settled in to getting my head down and getting on with the race.
“We got Felipe on the stop, which was great - I was happy with my in-lap, the pit-stop was great, and then my out-lap was strong, so we cleared him reasonably comfortably…”
And being able to take that walk out, above the pit-lane, onto the podium that overlooks the sea of fans?
“It's a great place here and it's very special to finish on the podium,” Webber admitted, “It's not a circuit where I've had the best results in the past, so it's a bit of a personal best for me - in qualifying and the race.”