Following months of rumour and speculation, Mark Webber has today confirmed that he will be turning his back on Formula One at the end of the season to team up with Porsche’s new sports-car programme. While much of the speculation was triggered by the controversial Malaysian Grand Prix, Webber has maintained that this was not a motive for his final decision.
The thirty-six year old leaves the sport with an impressive CV. While the World Championship title which he dearly craved has all but alluded him, Webber managed to claim nine victories, thirty-six podium’s and eleven Pole Position’s. Many of these highlights came during his awe-inspiring 2010 campaign where he was pipped to the title by teammate Sebastian Vettel. He eventually finished P3 in the standings. In terms of his future in motorsport, Mark will be entering Porsche’s exciting new programme, which will see the German giants enter the World Endurance Series with LMP1 specification cars. Webber will be challenging the likes of Audi and Toyota in the Le Mans 24 hours next season. The Aussie has experience in the endurance scene, after competing a Le Mans in 1998 and 1999, before entering Formula One in 2002.
“Porsche has written racing history as a manufacturer and stands for outstanding performance and technology at the highest level,” he said. “I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula One. I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world.”
While spending just 12 years in Formula One, Mark Webber has made an array of friends while building a strong fan-base. He entered the sport in explosive style with Minadi in 2002, claiming a memorable P5 in front of his home support. Brief stints at Jaguar and Williams followed, which were significantly hindered by unreliability. He joined Red Bull in 2007, initially partnering veteran David Coulthard and was a fundamental part of the team’s development process. It was in 2009, that Webber achieved his maiden victory in style at the Nurburgring. The Aussie battled back from a drive through penalty to snatch a well deserved victory.
While his talent was rarely doubted, Webber can only be described as one of the bridesmaid’s of Formula One. Frequently approached by Ferrari, he was never short of options, yet failed to capitalize fully on the opportunities he had. Meanwhile, his teammate claimed the glory. However, Webber can hold his head high following a successful, if not complete, career. Now attention will inevitably turn to his successor, while Red Bull maintain that they will spend time deliberating the best candidate. Kimi Raikkonen seems the favourite to partner Sebastian in the coming years, yet will Ricciardo or Vergne step up to the plate at the critical time? Silly season has well and truly begun!