Mat Coch writes:
He recently raced in a charity kart event to help raise funds for injured Superleague racer Chris van der Drift, he part owns a GP3 team, mentors young drivers, and in his spare time has enough energy to lead the World Championship. There's not much, it seems, that Mark Webber can't do.
From relatively humble beginnings in Queanbeyan, the Australian followed a difficult path to Formula One. Scraping by in his early years it was only an unexpected phone call from Norbert Haug offering him a drive at Mercedes that really changed the direction of his career.
That experience is something Webber has never forgotten, and is now passing his knowledge on to the next generation. Announced at the Australian Grand Prix, Webber is now mentoring New Zealander Mitch Evans, a 16-year-old currently lighting up the circuits in the less-than-overwhelming Australian Formula 3 championship.
Meeting Evans when he was just 14-years old, Webber was immediately impressed. Fast on the track the youngster handles himself just as well off it, speaking with a maturity beyond his age.
"He's like a 22-year-old already," quipped Mark in Singapore when asked about his continued relationship with Evans. "You learn, whether you've got a DC or a Sebastian or a Nico Rosberg as teammate, there's lots of different traits you learn off them which I can use to help mentor someone like Mitch. I can tell him all what those guys did and how they approached their work, and how I approach my work."
Since the initial announcement, Webber and Evans have been in frequent contact, with the Australian playing host to the Kiwi youngster in the lead up to the British Grand Prix. It came at a good time for Evans who was able to see first-hand just how his mentor handled himself under the immense pressure of a Formula One championship battle.
It was an experience Evans won't forget, claiming simply watching the Red Bull driver at work taught him more than he'd imagined possible. "I went over and stayed with him in England for about ten days around the time of the British Grand Prix, and did a whole lot of cool things with him," Evans told Pitpass exclusively last month.
"He's going to give me that bit of advice that's really going to help, like if things are going alright just keep your head high," he continued. "From someone that's at the top of their game you really want to take in as much advice as they can possibly give you."
Webber's own recent experiences are already being passed down, providing Evans with a unique education and insight into the inner sanctums of a Formula One team from an early age.
In the midst of his own championship fight, Evans finds himself in second place in the Australian Formula 3 championship, the series which determines the Australian Drivers' Championship which has previously been won by drivers like Kevin Bartlett and Larry Perkins.
Evans has already conquered the Australian racing scene, and with a contract with Webber for 2011 the duo are assessing their options for further progress. All indications suggest that this will mean Evans heading to Europe, though neither Mark nor Mitch were willing to comment.