Webber nurses title sorrows as Red Bull party

Monday, 15 November 2010 22:55 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ABU DHABI (Reuters) - The T-shirts hailing Mark Webber as 2010 Formula One World Champion were left in their box on Sunday as his Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel took the title instead.

With ‘We are the Champions’ blaring out from the garages, and celebrating team members covering champagne-soaked clothes with ‘Sebastian Vettel Champion 2010’ tops instead, the Australian escaped to the sanctuary of his room.

“He’s down really, to be honest with you,” his father Alan told Reuters, watching the party from a distance.

“He fired the arrow and he was aiming for the target way up there and he missed the target and that’s taking a long time to come back down to earth.

“He’ll get over it and he’ll move on and be somehow wiser I guess,” he said.

Webber had led the championship most recently until crashing out of the Korean Grand Prix on October 24 and, winner of four races, started the Abu Dhabi season-ender eight points behind Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

In the end, neither man took the title with Vettel coming from 15 points behind to win and crown himself the sport’s youngest champion.

“We knew we had to roll the dice and go for it with the strategy but it left us exposed,” Webber said in a release issued by the team.

“I tried my absolute hardest and we did everything we could, but in the end it wasn’t enough.

“You’ve got to take your hat off to Sebastian, he’s done a great job all year and to lead the championship at the last race, he’s got the timing right and I fully congratulate him.”

Team principal Christian Horner said the T-shirts, produced by partner Puma, had not been his idea.

“I told them not to produce anything to tempt fate,” said the Briton, whose team won the constructors’ title in Sao Paulo last weekend. “I’m sure they’ve done a Mark Webber one as well.

“I sent an email out about a month ago after Korea and said ‘Stop. Being a bit superstitious I don’t want to hear about parties, I don’t want to hear about celebrations’. And they produced one (a T-shirt) in Brazil and then they’ve produced another one here.

“It shows how much they listen to me.”

Horner said Webber had nothing to be ashamed of: “We’re all very proud of what he’s done, he’s been an awesome competitor,” he said. “He could well have won it... obviously he’ll be disappointed and will take a few days to reflect but I think he’ll come back even more motivated.

“He’s a big part of this success, he’s pushed Sebastian to the limit. I’ve just spoken to him and said he should hold his head high and be proud of what he’s achieved this year.”

Alan Webber said his son would be back in fighting shape next season.

“Sport’s a great leveller isn’t it really and we are terrible proud of what he’s done this year,” he said. “He’s had four wins, but Monaco is the highlight in F1 and motorsport in the world and Mark was able to win that one this year. It’s terrific.

“We’re tickled pink with the four wins. If we go back a few years, I was worried he might have been like Chris Amon, the New Zealander who was there or thereabouts but never won once. Mark’s got a few under his belt now.