MARK WEBBER has been named and Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) as part of the 2017 Australia Day celebrations.
The World Champion racing driver, born in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, is being recognised “for distinguished service to motor sport as a competitor and ambassador, and to the community through fundraising and patronage of a range of medical and youth support organisations.”
Webber joins fellow F1 veteran Jack Brabham on the list of motorsport icons privileged with the AO suffix on their official title.
The straight-shooting Webber worked his way through the junior open-wheel ranks until he joined Mercedes-AMG in the world of sportscar racing in 1998. Following two seasons in the FIA GT Championship, which included a terrifying crash at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Webber moved to the Arrows F1 team as a test driver.
It wasn’t until 2002 when he made his Formula One race debut, representing Minardi at the Australian Grand Prix. Webber impressed with a stunning drive to hold off Mika Salo to finish fifth in front of the home crowd – much higher in the finishing order than many expected from the Aussie rookie.
During his F1 career he raced for Jaguar and Williams, before joining the then-fledgling Red Bull team in 2007. It wasn’t until the 2009 German Grand Prix when he claimed his first win – claiming a further 8 victories before his retirement from F1 in 2013.
Webber returned to the sportscar fold in 2014 with Porsche, winning the FIA World Endurance Championship with the German manufacturer in 2015, and retiring from full-time competition at the end of last year.
Respected by his peers, Webber gave himself the moniker Aussie Grit, a name which embodies his determination and fighting spirit. Although he no longer races full-time, Webber has committed himself in continued community work both in his personal life, and as a Porsche ambassador.
Also honoured at the Australia Day festivities was former CAMS chairman and life member Steven Chopping. Also serving as an F1 steward here and overseas, Chopping was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia, “for significant service to motor sports through leadership and technical advisory roles, and to national and international professional groups.”
Wheels extends its congratulations to both gentlemen.