SINGAPORE – There’s always a first time for everything, even when it comes to meeting the nine-time Formula One race winner Mark Webber in person. The Australian racer has had a decorated career of almost 20 years, having spent 12 years racing on the F1 circuit, notching up 215 races and picking up wins in countries like Brazil, Spain, Germany, Hungary and Monaco. He’s notably known for becoming a double winner of both the prestigious Monaco and British Grands Prix – and accumulated an impressive tally of 42 podium finishes, 13 pole positions and 19 fastest laps. Mark announced his retirement from motor racing at the end of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season.
In his starring career, he has driven for Porsche, Red Bull, Jaguar, Minardi and Williams. Mark has helped Red Bull Racing to four consecutive Constructors’ World Championships. After stepping down from the driver’s cockpit, he concentrated his energy in mountain-bike racing and running. He can be found cycling the French Alps in the European summer, hiking or mountain biking in either the Chilterns countryside while he’s in the UK or in the rugged Colorado landscape when he’s in the USA, and enjoying the surf and national parks of Queensland, Australia.
Today, as he’s traveling around the world as Boss’ ambassador, he’s also been signed on as the face of Porsche x Boss campaign. It seems that the motorsports world never quite left him aside. Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore chats with Mark Webber, who’s in town for Singapore Formula 1.
We had a good, really good time. I mean, we were at Leipzig (Saxony’s city in Germany) at one of Porsche’s best facilities in the world, actually. So we had a lot of cars; there were two different types of shoots with different styles, and products. And then of course, we got the wardrobe out… So as you’d expect, the best guys in the business are trying to help. It was the first time I saw the capsule collection in one sitting, so that was great. You can see (from the campaign photos) it was a long, long day, but it was very, very worthwhile.
Great. And how did you get into the mood of shooting this campaign?
Yeah, the guys were really good in helping me sort the angles and making sure that we’re happy (with the photos) because there’s a lot of moving parts, especially with the clothes. They make sure that I’m at the right angle, the jacket is not blowing in the wrong direction, the zip is done up, you got it. And then driving a car, being in the cockpit, getting the lighting right. You know, it’s not the best environment for them to shoot sometimes, because inside cars is quite challenging. I was in a good mood all day. I enjoyed it.
Nice. Okay, so when it comes to like suits and formal wear, do you gravitate to a certain style or colours?
Yeah, I like to keep it pretty simple. Even before the capsule collection, I’ve been wearing Boss a lot to functions, with my media work and TV work in the last five or six years. You can wear a collared shirt, or a T shirt under a jacket, and then obviously you have the trousers, belt and keeping the look as clean as you can. I’m not a huge fan of dress shoes, so I like to wear really comfortable shoes. So that’s why it’s actually really good that the formal side of the capsule collection is actually super comfy and relaxing. so I mean that makes you feel I just feel a bit more relaxed when it’s not as formal. I do wear darkened colours; I don’t like pastels and those colours are not really my type. I don’t know why, maybe I can get better at it.
Could you tell us, what’s your everyday wear?
Pretty casual. So, jeans and T-shirt is really my go-to but you know, I don’t know how many pairs of Boss jeans I’ve got, but it’s a lot of jeans where I get my money’s worth! Sometimes my wife goes, ‘how long have you had those for!’ She’ll say, ‘you’re putting some weight on, you’ll need to lose some weight.’ Yeah (smiles).
Does she act as your fashion consultant in some way?
She sometimes sees me, and she’ll come in and say no. But, not pretty often!
Is there a fashion fauxpas or a no-no you won’t wear?
No, but I’m not really good with shoes. I think I should have a lot more shoes. Most Italian men would go crazy at me, but yeah, I’m not really a shoe collector.
What about accessories?
Yeah, actually quite basic minimum. Absolutely nothing; just my watch and my ring. I sleep with my watch too.
What’s in your travel luggage currently?
I’m coming through Singapore, which is hot. So when you have a swing of 30 degrees temperature, and packing is a bit more of a challenge. I’ve got jeans, sneakers, T-shirts, warm gear in case I pop by Canberra and home visits to Queanbeyan. Yeah, and an iPad. I’m really bad with music. I don’t carry any headphones or anything like that.
So you don’t really listen to music when you’re on the road?
I should, I always regret. I went through a big phase of podcasts. I’m like, okay, I mean, everyone’s been trying to save the world now. And it’s like, I’m doing what I can. I’d like to be around people more, to learn the lessons. I mean, I’ve listened to a lot of podcasts, I enjoy them. But I’m not going to be, you know, doing two podcasts every day, constantly being told what to do. I need a bit of trial and error in my life as well.
So when you say you’re trying your best to save the world, what do you mean?
We all know in podcasts, there are themes like, sustainability, and I get that. I love nature and I’m so soft when it comes to animals. I’m a big animal lover. So I do what I can.
Who knows, perhaps one day you might have a chance to work with animals?
Yes, absolutely. Like, rhino poaching; I know that helicopters and rescues are doing a lot to find the poachers and save the rhinos. And I love aviation. I would like to contribute to the right causes. Even with the plastic situation, you feel guilty. I never ask for receipts because I know it’s more paper. So I try to make small decisions. I never know if it’s going to happen but if I never have children, you know, overpopulation is a topic right? I mean, there’s going to be a billion people every 10 years now so yeah, maybe we should stop that for a while.
I want to live, but I know I am responsible. I recycle, I do what I can; I think if everyone lives sensibly, that’s all we can wish for I guess. I don’t waste my food and I feel really bad if we over order.
So how do you look after your skin after working on set?
Very badly, I don’t. I do drink a lot of water. When I leave a set with some makeup, I ask for wet wipes and I leave. Deodorant, aftershave, toothpaste – those are my toiletries.
I want to smell nice. I do have probably too many showers. I do have definitely two, maybe three showers a day. But yeah, but I can get really, really quick as well so that drives my wife crazy. But I can be ready after ten minutes after a shower.
So where’s the weirdest place you find yourself exercising at?
Probably my hotel room. Sometimes I’m doing some simple exercise push-ups, sit-ups, some bench work off of the bed, just to get some circulation and fitness going. I had a friend who ran five kilometres in the Singapore airport. He had a two-hour connection, so he was just running around. But he said it felt really amazing.
So looking back at your career and comparing it to now, where it’s slower pace, do you feel like you can soak in the moment? Is there a point in life that you wish you could go back to and revive?
Well, I think that naturally, as you get older, you get more wisdom, and you have more of a calmer approach of looking at history. You could deal with stripping down a challenge or a problem, whether it was professionally or privately, just because you get better at it.
I lost some friends; some friends were killed when I was racing. And at the time, it was tough, and when you’re older, you get better at handling tough moments, just because you are wise. But when you’re young, it’s hard to take in. And managing people is a big component. You know, you can handle people much better when you’re older, but when you’re young, you don’t really know how to handle people, because you haven’t got the experience of dealing with them. Now you just have a bit more measured approach of how to press the right buttons in certain relationships.
Professionally, that’s a big component in my sport, you know, as that’s a real test for drivers, or in any sports men or women are in when they’re young. Talent is one thing, But if you’re not going to work well with people then you’re not going to have a good career. Maybe I could have done certain things a bit better when I was younger, to be more conscientious to push people harder, to get more support advice on the technical side, not mentally, but just on getting more out of my equipment. Instead of thinking that I can sort it out myself, and putting more pressure on myself. But I’m going to find a way because I’m stubborn and determined but there might have been a cleverer way to skin the cat, but not by much.
Do you think you’re better at also asking for help now?
Yeah, of course, I think that you just get wiser with everything in terms of (pauses) you’re a better listener. So does that mean you’re asking for more help? You’re not asking for more help in that order, you’re listening better. Of course, when you’re 21 it probably goes right through (he points to his ears). So for me, I was in a bubble, but when you get older you you inherently listen better. Yeah, every day is a school day; I say that because you should learn something. But when you get a bit older, you can accept that maybe there’s better ways to do things. So you can ask if you still need to ask, and you ask better questions.
Can you remember a time when you last say no to someone or something?
It was probably at an appearance this morning. They wanted to take photos and photos and I had limited time. I said no, we cannot do any more photos. Sorry, but I have to go. People will be disappointed but I have to get to another appointment.
So I guess my last question would be like, do you have any advice for the young upcoming F1 drivers?
Yeah, the racing in Europe is probably where you need to be because it’s the most competitive. So if you can get there as a young driver between the age of 17 and 19, that’s really, your university. The tracks are the hottest in the world; the competition, the team’s level is extremely high. So if you can be competitive in that environment, then you’re going to put yourself in a pretty good position to continue to move forward. You cannot be a big fish in a small pond, you need to get over there and go with it. Go with the tough guys. And that’s what they need to do. You have to be prepared to go outside of your comfortable bubble, because you have to put pressure on yourself, if you want to strive for success.
Who you’ll be rooting for this year?
Probably my old team, Red Bull.
Okay, any last words for your fans in Singapore?
Well, I always love coming here; it’s very close to us. A lot of Australians fly in to watch Singapore F1 and even for them to come to Melbourne obviously as well. So yeah, thanks for their support and hope they enjoy the rest of this year.