Mark Webber quits Formula One

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AUSTRALIAN Formula One gun Mark Webber will retire from the sport at the end of 2013 and start a multi-year deal with the factory-backed Porsche LMP1 endurance team.

The deal will see him compete in Porsche’s new LMP1 hybrid sports prototype at the Le Mans 24 Hours and in the sportscar World Endurance Championship WEC in 2014.

The 36-year old Canberra native, currently one half of the championship-leading Red Bull Racing team, is the oldest driver on the F1 grid and a veteran of 205 races.

Over the course of his career from 2002 until today, he has managed 36 podiums, nine wins and 11 poles. He came within a whisker of winning the title in 2010, leading for much of the season.

Mr Webber will join former Red Bull development driver Neel Jani at the LMP1 team. He is no stranger to sportscar racing, having previously competed for Mercedes in 1998 and 1999 – famously flipping his car backwards at 300km/h ahead of the 1999 Le Mans 24-hour.

In 1998 he finished runner-up in the FIA GT Championship at the wheel of a sports prototype.

Rumours of a departure have been widespread for some time, growing in heat since the Malaysian Grand Prix in March where team-mate Sebastian Vettel defied Red Bull team orders and passed him for the lead before going on to win the race.

“It’s an honour for me to join Porsche at its return to the top category in Le Mans and in the sports car World Endurance Championship and be part of the team,” said Mr Webber.

“Porsche has written racing history as a manufacturer and stands for outstanding technology and performance at the highest level.

“I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula 1. Porsche will undoubtedly set itself very high goals. I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world.”

Paying tribute to Webber's time with Red Bull, team principal Christian Horner said:“I am sure Mark thought long and hard before making what has no doubt been a very difficult decision.

“His achievements in Formula One are extensive and I am sure he will continue to push hard and build on that record until the end of the season.

We support Mark’s decision, he has been an excellent addition to the team since joining us in 2007 and we wish him all the best in the next stages of his career.”

 

Article by Mike Costello from www.goauto.com.au