Webber wins 'Bernie' Award
13 January 2003 | 3:34am
For immediate release January 12, 2003
WEBBER WINS 'BERNIE' AWARD!
Mark Webber rounded off F1's social season by collecting his second major rookie of the year award for 2002, when he was voted F1 Newcomer of the Year at the prestigious, annual Grand Prix Party at Birmingham's NEC Arena on Saturday evening, January 11.
Better known as the 'Bernies' (F1's take on the Oscars!), the awards ceremony was run in conjunction with a fund-raising party for Professor Sid Watkins' Brain and Spine Foundation, and was attended by a number of Formula One stars and personalities, including drivers David Coulthard, Cristiano de Matta, Olivier Panis, Ricardo Zonta, Antonio Pizzonia, Justin Wilson and Giancarlo Fisichella. Former world champions, Damon Hill and Nigel Mansell were also in attendance, the latter presenting Mark with his miniature 'Bernie' statue award.
"It's certainly great for me to receive a 'Bernie' Award, because after all, he's the guy who has made F1 what it is and I'd like to thank everyone on the voting panel." said Webber after collecting the award from Mansell. "2002 was a highly memorable season for me and I'm sure the Melbourne result helped to earn this award, as a lot of of people were genuinely happy to see one of the smaller teams get lucky."
Mark wasn't the only Australian representative collecting an award either – the Albert Park circuit was voted the Best Circuit of 2002, and Minardi team boss, Paul Stoddart, stepped up to accept the award on behalf of the Australian Grand Prix Corporation. Said Mark, "I was really pleased to see Melbourne named circuit of the year, not only because it's my home event, but because I believe it's second to none in terms of organisation and facilities. And, who better to receive the award on behalf of the AGPC than Paul – a Melbourne boy."
Twenty-six year old Webber, who will debut for Jaguar Racing in the Foster's Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 7-9, was successful in many of the end of 2002 season F1 website polls. He was also voted Rookie of the Year' by the readers of F1 Racing Magazine, and collected the Autosport.com Rookie of the Year award at the Autosport Awards in London last month from his good mate, Jenson Button. Among the guests at the annual event at the Grosvenor House Hotel, were Emerson Fittipaldi, Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart, Jean Alesi, Derek Warwick, Martin Brundle, Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne and 2002 F1 drivers, Juan Pablo Montoya, Coulthard, Button, Allan McNish, Mika Salo as well as world rally champion, Marcus Gronholm and British duo, Colin McRae and Richard Burns.
"It was an added buzz for me to win this award because it was open to the rallying and American scenes as well as F1 and was voted for by the public" said Webber afterwards. "It was also very special for me to receive the award in front of so many respected people from the motorsport industry."
Webber returns to the track this coming week after the Christmas/New Year break when Jaguar Racing commences it 2003 test programme at Barcelona. "I'm looking forward to getting back in the car – we've got a busy few weeks ahead of us and it's going to be interesting to see how all of the teams, including ourselves, shape up. We should start to get a fair idea of how things are looking by the start of February."
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