The last thing Mark Webber wants is fuss. After a good performance, a brisk nod of recognition from his peers makes him very contented, and in the garage he’s happy to be at the heart of the shared sense of achievement that comes with a victory, a pole position or simply a good day at the office – but in the outside world, Mark’s never been very keen on the hoopla and razzmatazz that stalks a grand prix winner.
So, when it came to celebrating his 215th and final grand prix, Mark really didn't want his race weekend to turn into a circus. There was a celebratory dinner on Wednesday night with the team but at the track it was strictly business as usual. What Mark did consent to, however, was a series of intimate race day portraits by photographer Mark Thompson. Thommo is one of the family: he's been photographing Infiniti Red Bull Racing since the beginning and Mark since the start of his F1 career. This is how Mark's weekend looked through his lens.
1. A session with team chiropractor Paul Cheung.
Driving a Formula One car is a physically brutalising business. Even in the cramped confines of the Interlagos paddock, the drivers need space for a treatment table.
2. Conversation with Rich Connor and Simon Rennie
Two of the people who work closest with Mark are Rich, his trainer, and Simon, his race engineer. It's a rare hour during a grand prix weekend when Mark isn't in conversation with one or the other.
3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Focus
...but there's a time to clear the head and prepare alone for the grand prix. Oddly enough, the presence of a photographer isn't really a distraction – after a dozen seasons of F1 the click of a camera becomes simply background noise, automatically filtered out.
8 & 9. Final Drive
The minutes before the pitlane opens are a busy time for the crew. The car, and not the driver, is the centre of attention. There is normally only time for nods and smiles - but this being Mark's last race, there was a moment to say thanks from the team. After this it was business as usual with conversation limited to weather updates and final instructions before Mark takes the RB9 out to the grid for the last time.
10. The man beneath the mask
After the chequered flag, Mark took the time to savour the moment. Enormous and heartfelt applause bounced off the Interlagos grandstands as marshals waved Mark around his in-lap. It was a typical Mark Webber drive: hard, gutsy, overtaking great drivers with crisp, committed moves, leaving absolutely nothing on the table. Finishing his career on the podium with yet another fastest lap.
11. Job done
And that's it. The curtain comes down on an illustrious career – but Le Mans awaits. See ya' around Aussie Grit, good luck at Porsche – they don't know how lucky they are.