Webber confirms F1 departure at the end of 2013
It’s a subject that has been rumoured and discussed for some time but the Australian driver decided to make the announcement prior to this weekends British Grand Prix.
Webber joined the sport in 2001 driving for Minardi before jumping ship to Jaguar. He then had a stint at Williams before joining Red Bull Racing in 2007. The 36-year-old has won nine races during his career, all with the Milton Keynes based squad, but is now moving on to new challenges.
He had a few options open for 2014 including staying at Red Bull Racing or moving to another top team like Lotus should a seat come available. Today’s announcement now begs the question, who will get his seat? It’s the most desired drive in Formula One and Kimi Raikkonen is thought to be the lead contender, with the Toro Rosso pairing of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne also being in contention.
Webber described it as an “honour” to race for Porsche, adding in a press release: “Porsche has written racing history as a manufacturer and stands for outstanding performance and technology at the highest level.
“I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula 1. I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world.”
He developed a reputation for being a tough but fair racer on track and is a well liked member of the Formula One paddock due to his sense of humour and honesty.
However the atmosphere within the team became tense after the events of this years Malaysian Grand Prix when Sebastian Vettel ignored team instructions to hold position and overtook Webber for the lead of the race.
Prior to the announcement, Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz was keen to admit that there was a seat available for Webber should he want it: “Whether he retires, only he will choose but Mark is definitely a candidate for 2014. He is always welcome with us.”
Webber will now join Porsche’s sportscar programme and help them return to their former Le Mans glory in the LMP1 class – a race they won 16 times and the last being back in 1998. He formerly raced for Mercedes in the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 1998 and 1999.
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic
Jack Leslie is a freelance motorsport journalist. He has been part of the Richland F1 team since the very start and made his debut in the F1 paddock for the website at the 2014 Austrian Grand Prix. Jack also writes for Car Throttle and RumbleStripNews, as well as running a popular blog.