IT TOOK EIGHT YEARS and 130 race starts, but Australia?s Mark Webber has secured the long-awaited first victory of his Formula One career, following a stunning performance at the German Grand Prix.
Starting from pole, Webber struggled off the line as he immediately found himself under pressure from the lighter-fuelled Rubens Barrichello, colliding with the Brazilian on the run to the first turn.
Despite both drivers emerging from the incident unscathed, Webber was punished with a drive-through penalty for swerving into Barrichello, seemingly scuppering his chances of securing a debut race win.
But the set-back only seemed to spur the Red Bull driver on as Webber produced the greatest performance of his career. Overcoming the deficit and charging through the field, Webber became the third-ever Australian, and first since Alan Jones in 1981, to win a Formula One Grand Prix.
Overwhelmed with emotion on the race radio in the immediate aftermath of the race, Webber managed to remain composed when talking to the awaiting media pack, describing his delight at finally breaking through for a maiden win.
?It?s an incredible day for me I wanted to win so badly after Silverstone I thought I had a good chance there but after yesterday?s pole position I knew I was in a good position to try and win the race today,? he said.
?The only thing at the end that I though was going to beat me or was going to test me was the rain, but even that held off so to get the victory today was a little bit testing obviously.
Webber continued: ?I lost Rubens completely off the start and I thought he was over to the left so I went right and I banged in to him.
?It?s not normally my style and I think I got a drive-through (penalty) for that so I had to recover and my engineer kept me quite calm and I pushed as hard as I could when I needed to.?
After breaking his leg during the off-season while competing at his own charity event, Webber appeared to be facing a battle this season to not only regain his fitness but save a career that seemed on the wane.
But finally armed with a competitive machine and the support of the Red Bull management, Webber has showed himself capable of delivering on the potential he displayed early in his career.
While Webber was grateful for the support provided by Red Bull, the much-maligned 32-year-old also delivered a special message to his many doubters.
?I want to thank Dietrich (Mateschitz) and Red Bull for what they did for me over the winter, everyone in Australia that supported me on the way through and of course there?s a few people who doubted me as well, so hello to them as well,? Webber said after the race.
Webber's German teammate Sebastian Vettel completed a 1-2 finish for Red Bull while Ferrari's Felipe Massa rounded off the top three with his first podium finish of the season.
Williams' Nico Rosberg crossed the line fourth, ahead of the Brawn's of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, while Renault's Fernando Alonso and Finn Heikki Kovalainen finished eighth.