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Red Bull's junior programme has "softened" - Webber

Red Bull's junior programme has "softened" - Webber
Co-author: Oleg Karpov
Jan 12, 2018, 3:32 PM

Red Bull has "softened" and got "calmer" with its Formula 1 junior programme in recent years, reckons its long-time driver Mark Webber.

Mark Webber
Polesitters #1 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid: Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley
 Brendon Hartley, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12
Brendon Hartley, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12
Polesitter Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, Mark Webber, Red Bull Racing
Brendon Hartley, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12
Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull Racing and Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing celebrate on the podium
Daniil Kvyat, Scuderia Toro Rosso STR8
Jan Magnussen, Stewart SF-1
Jan Magnussen, McLaren MP4/10B

Though Webber's junior career was not Red Bull supported, he joined its F1 team from Williams in 2007 and stayed for seven years.

Webber said Red Bull had contacted him for advice on his former Porsche LMP1 teammate Brendon Hartley before recalling the Kiwi to its roster and giving him a Toro Rosso F1 seat seven years after it dropped him from its junior programme.

Hartley's second chance suggested to Webber that Red Bull and its motorsport advisor Helmut Marko had mellowed.

"I think Red Bull softened a little bit," Webber told

"It's not as maybe as intense as it was in the former years. And maybe this opportunity would not have come about [then].

"You have to take your hat off to Helmut - he has looked at it, he's given him a second chance.

"It is a different environment. It's much calmer - which is I see only an upside."

Hartley admitted that he "crumbled" when he first had an F1 chance with Red Bull, and Webber agrees that the now-28-year-old is much better prepared for this opportunity.

"He openly says he wasn't ready when he was younger," Webber said.

"Some people mature, some people go early. There would be lots of Formula 1 drivers that would love to have a second bite of a cherry. Not many did. At all. But he did."

Though Red Bull brought Hartley back into its fold this year, it jettisoned Daniil Kvyat as it made room for Hartley and Pierre Gasly at Toro Rosso.

Kvyat had won the Formula Renault Alps and GP3 titles as a Red Bull junior and was promoted from Toro Rosso to Red Bull Racing just one year into his F1 career, but was then demoted in favour of Max Verstappen in early 2016 and then dropped altogether before this season was over.

Webber cited the example of Jan Magnussen, tipped for greatness following a dominant 1994 British Formula 3 title but dropped from F1 after one and a half mostly unsuccessful seasons with Stewart, as evidence that junior category form did not necessarily translate to grand prix racing.

"There's been so many drivers who were unbelievable in the junior categories, but did not really fulfil their promise in Formula 1," said Webber.

"In Formula 1 I think it's a bit like a Michelin star restaurant, where as a chef you have to be an expert in many different dishes.

"In the junior categories you don't. You have to be an expert in one or two dishes.

"But Formula 1 is like a very, very tough test for the driver envelope of operation and your ability to work with people.

"You don't really have this so much in junior categories. If you're fast, you can still do the results, but later on you need to have mind management and the composure."

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Series Formula 1
Drivers Mark Webber
Teams Red Bull Racing Shop Now , AlphaTauri Shop Now
Author Matt Beer