Before going into the higher levels of single seater racing, Mark Webber is probably most noted for his development stint in the Mercedes Benz Sportscar Program which can be compared to the development stints of Michael Schumacher, Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Karl Wendlinger. In 1999, he was one of the drivers that infamously had his Mercedes-Benz CLR do two backward somersaults during the weekend of 24 Hours of LeMans. After his stint with Mercedes he was named official test driver with Arrows F1 in 2000 and ran with the European Arrows F3000 team. For 2001, he signed with Benetton Renault to do some testing. Webber impressed in testing and in F3000 and as a consequence, landed a drive with Minardi for 2002.
Mark Webber was in high demand as his performance at Minardi demonstrated clear potential as a top level driver and he eventually signed with Jaguar Racing for 2003. However, prospects of being a regular race winner or podium finisher with Jaguar were dashed by poor leadership and leadership instability as well as financial mismanagement by Jaguar's parent company, Ford. Nevertheless, he continued to demonstrated the ability of a front line driver but the reoccurring theme of reliability and sub-par equipment at Jaguar in 2003 and 2004 seemed to stymie him. He was signed with Jaguar through 2005, but his talent and Ford's lack of money in addition to performance clauses in the contract, the widely sought Mark Webber signed up with Williams-BMW for the 2005 season. Not too long after Webber's announcement was made, Ford announced that they were pulling out of F1 and that Jaguar was being sold. The Jaguar racing operation was bought by energy drink company, Red Bull.