Purnell rates Webber in Schumacher league

Purnell rates Webber in Schumacher league

Tony Purnell, Ford's CEO of the Premiere Performance Division, thinks Jaguar driver Mark Webber is in the same league as five-time champion Michael Schumacher. Webber started in Formula One last year with Minardi and made an impact at his home...

Tony Purnell, Ford's CEO of the Premiere Performance Division, thinks Jaguar driver Mark Webber is in the same league as five-time champion Michael Schumacher. Webber started in Formula One last year with Minardi and made an impact at his home race in Australia when he came home fifth. Jaguar snapped him up for 2003 and so far he's scored all of the team's seventeen points.

Mark Webber.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
Purnell thinks Webber has improved all season: "I thought he was a pretty good racing driver at the beginning of the year and I guess a lot of punters would have said 'that's an interesting choice, I wonder how he'll get on'," Purnell told the Jaguar website.

"At the start of the season I myself thought 'he's not quite top flight yet but I like the way he approaches his job, let's see how he goes in testing'. Now I think, 'blimey this bloke is good!'"

Webber's contract with Jaguar was extended to 2005 as early as May this year, which shows the confidence they both have in each other. Purnell can't speak highly enough of the Aussie star and compares him with Schumacher, which, for some, is the highest of accolades.

"I'm very surprised that people aren't talking about him in even more complimentary terms than they already are because I see him in the Michael Schumacher league," Purnell said. "I've spent some time with Michael and have some good friends at Ferrari. Michael is a brilliant driver and seems to deliver on demand and I see exactly the same in what Mark does."

Webber's seventeen points put him ahead of F1 stalwarts Giancarlo Fisichella, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Olivier Panis and former champion Jacques Villeneuve in the Driver's standings. Jaguar is engaged in a three-way fight with BAR and Toyota to claim fifth in Constructors' championship -- BAR is currently ahead of the Leaping Cat by one point.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Mark Webber , Olivier Panis
Teams Ferrari , Minardi