Mark Webber an inspiration, says successor Daniel Ricciardo

Mark Webber an inspiration, says successor Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo has hailed Mark Webber's impact on Australian motorsport as the 37-year-old prepares for his final Formula One Grand Prix.

Webber will compete in Formula One for the last time on Sunday when he races in the Brazilian Grand Prix for Red Bull, bringing to a close a 217-race Formula One career.

While Webber's reputation amongst the Australian sporting public is mixed due to the veteran's failure to win a world championship, Ricciardo - who is set to team up with Sebastian Vettel next season - said he believes his compatriot deserves plenty of recognition for putting Formula One back on the map in Australia.

Ricciardo also thanked Webber for inspiring him thus far in his fledgling career.

"Mark's presence in F1 provided me with a lot of motivation when I was a kid," the 24-year-old Western Australian wrote in his regular blog for Fox Sports.

"He proved that you could go to Europe and make it work. Watching his progress showed me that such things were possible for Australians. It drove me on, making me want to achieve the same thing."

Ricciardo also revealed how he first met Webber while he was racing in the Formula Renault in Italy as an 18-year-old.

"One thing that stands out is that he gave me a call the evening before my first test with Red Bull Racing," Ricciardo wrote.

"Obviously I didn't have his number in my phone so it was a bit of a jolt when I answered. We had a good long chat, he gave me some valuable advice about the car and how the crew would be able to help me - he also told me to make sure I really enjoyed it.

"Later on I found out he'd been calling around the crew trying to find somebody who had my number.

"Because we're both Red Bull drivers and share a passport, there's an assumption on the outside that it's part of Mark's job to mentor me... (but) it doesn't work like that.

"Mark's job was to win races and challenge for titles with Red Bull Racing. He had his own career to think about and that's a full time occupation. The fact he did things like that when he really didn't need to is something I'm very grateful for. It was a nice touch."

Webber can finish his career with 10 Grand Prix victories if he takes the chequered flag in Brazil, while he went closest to a drivers' championship in 2010 when he finished third overall, blowing a 14-point lead with three races remaining.

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