Webber and Minardi celebrate fifth

Rookie Mark Webber and the little Minardi team are celebrating an incredible fifth place in the Australian Grand Prix after a race of chaos

Webber and Minardi celebrate fifth

The 25-year-old Aussie started a respectable 18th in his first GP, but rose into the points thanks to the high retirement rate, beginning with the first corner pile-up.

"What a day - it's unbelievable!" raved Webber. "I have a lot to thank [team boss] Paul Stoddart for. He's done so much to get this team going."

Webber looked set to lose fifth place to Toyota's Mika Salo in the final laps as the Finn closed in on the Minardi. But Salo spun as he was lining Webber up and had to settle for sixth.

"The guys were saying on the radio 'don't let him past!" said the rookie. "I was a bit worried about the slow corners because I thought he would get me there. But I was always going to make him work hard for it.

"Tonight could be serious. I'm supposed to catch a plane, but I think I will probably miss it!"

Unsurprisingly, Stoddart was overjoyed and took Webber up on to the podium after the official ceremony had taken place to bask in the glory and cheers of the esctatic crowd.

"This means everything," he said. "It doesn't get any better than this. It's been a long, hard road but my God, I'm proud! Mark has really showed my faith in him is justified."

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