Will Mark Webber's 200th appearance end his woes?
The older driver on the F1 circuit needs to finish in the top two at the Bahrain GP to gain on the leaders in the drivers' standings.
Bahrain: With just three days to go for the Bahrain Grand Prix, Red Bull driver Mark Webber is in a big dilemma ahead of his career's 200th appearance. The 2013 season has also brought many troubles for the Australian.
This season, just two drivers have reached the milestone of hitting the circuit for the 200th time in their glorious career. Fernando Alonso of Ferrari achieved the feat at the Malaysian GP, where he failed to deliver and crashed out on the second lap at the rain-hit Sepang International Circuit.
Now, it's the turn of Red Bull's Mark Webber, who is on a roller-coaster ride this season. Webber, who joined Red Bull from Williams in 2007, will race for the 200th time at the Bahrain GP this weekend. Webber has nine GP victories in his career, all of them with Red Bull. The 37-year-old drove for Minardi, Jaguar and Williams before joining the Australian F1 team. Webber finished sixth in the season-opening Australian GP, then came in second at the controversial Malaysian GP at Sepang.
The questions started rising about Webber when three-time world champion Sebastian Vettel snatched victory from him in Malaysia by ignoring the team's order not to overtake him. As a result Webber, who could have been crowned as winner, had to contend with a second-place finish.
Webber also proved unlucky at the Chinese Grand Prix last weekend when he ran out of the fuel in the qualifying. He also faced an ouster after his rear wheel fell off in the first hour of the race after his car collided with Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne. Webber's agony didn't end there as he was given a three-grid penalty for this weekend's race after the collision with Vergne.
Vettel leads the F1 drivers' standings with 52 points ahead of Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen who has 49 points and Alonso who is on third with 43 points. Webber has just 26 after four races in the season. Burying the ghosts of Malaysia and Shanghai, Webber, recently tweeted "Yes folks really looking forward to the next GP, it's my 200th appearance."
To be in the top four in the drivers' standing, Webber needs to win the race or at least second finish. Winning the Bahrain GP will give him the second spot with just one point behind the defending champion, Vettel. A second-place finish will put the Australian at third ahead of Alonso. But a third-place finish will put Webber at fourth in the standings.
The relation between the two drivers- Vettel and Webber- has been soured after the German didn't allow him to win the race at Sepang. After a lot of debate on the three-time world champion, Red Bull's team management said, "Everything is settled between the two drivers and they will be working together".
But will Vettel be able to win Webber's trust again? This may be very difficult to say in the aftermath of the Malaysian GP controversy. Though Vettel apologised after the race, Webber may not be a helpful team-mate for the upcoming races.