Webber confirms F1 exit to join Porsche WEC team

2013 F1 season

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 2013Mark Webber has confirmed he will leave F1 at the end of the year to join Porsche’s team for the World Endurance Championship.

Porsche have already tested the LMP1 car (pictured) which will compete in next year’s WEC including the Le Mans 24 Hours.

“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 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.”

Webber will join former Red Bull development driver Neel Jani at Porsche’s LMP1 team along with Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. He previously raced for Mercedes’ Le Mans team but they withdrew from the 1999 race after experiencing a series of high-speed flips, two of which were suffered by Webber.

Porsche LMP1 test, Weissach, 2013“Mark is without doubt one of the world?s best race drivers,” said Porsche board member Wolfgang Hatz. “He has experience at the Le Mans 24 hour race and on top of that he?s been a Porsche enthusiast for many years.”

Webber’s F1 departure will come at the end of his seventh season with Red Bull during which he has won nine Grands Prix. But he has increasingly come into conflict with team mate Sebastian Vettel, who joined the outfit in 2009 and has since won 28 races and three world championships.

Matters came to a head in this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix where Vettel was ordered not to pass Webber in the closing stages of the race. Vettel defied the instruction and went on to win. Shortly afterwards rumours began to surface that Webber was considering leaving the team.

Webber made his Formula One debut with Minardi in 2002, achieving a remarkable fifth place on his debut in an attrition-hit race. Subsequent moves to Jaguar and Williams brought him closer to Grand Prix success. But it wasn’t until he joined Red Bull that he claimed his first victory, at the Nurburgring in 2009.

His decision to leave Red Bull will leave a vacant seat at the team which has won the last three constructors’ championships.

2013 F1 season


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141 comments on Webber confirms F1 exit to join Porsche WEC team

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  1. the_sigman (@sigman1998) said on 27th June 2013, 9:15

    Good luck in WEC, Mark. Thanks for the great memories in F1!

  2. disjunto (@disjunto) said on 27th June 2013, 9:16

    One more reason to watch WEC and Sports Car racing :)

  3. DavidJH (@davidjh) said on 27th June 2013, 9:19

    Expected this, but still a surprise. Any news at all on who will replace him? Or will we have several months with the rumour mills running at full speed? Given JEV’s recent performance, I’d be surprised if Red Bull were quite ready to commit to Ricciardo.

    • Well, I don’t see Red Bull having any options other than Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Vergne at the moment…

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th June 2013, 10:05

      I think Red Bull are trying to get Kimi to confirm, and either JEV or RIC are a backup plan at max.

      On the other hand, a Kimi – Vettel line-up would mean that they are unlikely to have a clear long term view, because Vettel can end in 2015 and Kimi is also unlikely to sign for a long term. The positive of that is (for them at least) it keeps the pressure on to keep up to pace (or it means that Mateschitz can change marketing strategies and sell the team mid 2015, off course)

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 27th June 2013, 10:28

      1st. Good luck mate!

      2nd. I think they will try get Kimi, if they fail to get him then plan B should be give JEV or RIC a shot and put António Felix da Costa in the Renault powered Torro Rosso in 2014 getting him ready for a sit at Red Bull if JEV or RIC fail to impress.

      Personally, I’d love to see Kimi in that car.

  4. Jan (@yancheelaa) said on 27th June 2013, 9:20

    Best thing he could ever do !!! Le Mans rocks….

  5. Adam Kibbey (@kibblesworth) said on 27th June 2013, 9:21

    Just saw this on BBC Sport. It will be sad to see him go, as he’s a good man and a great driver. It’s probably for the best though, his rivalry with Vettel was getting a bit to bitter for the good of either party and, given his recent criticism of the state of F1, it’s fair to see that he will enjoy the WEC a lot more than F1 anyway.

    For sure he will be missed. But of course the bigger news is that, at long last, an elusive Red Bull seat has opened up! I’m almost certain Kimi will get it but we shall see. After all, what is the point of Red Bull’s driver development programme if they are never actually going to place one of them at the wheel of the real deal?

  6. Estesark (@estesark) said on 27th June 2013, 9:22

    It was only a few hours ago that I read my first “will he stay or will he go” stories of the year. I was already preparing myself for another full summer of them. Good timing by Mark, then, to spare us that particular element of the silly season.

    Great driver, thoroughly likeable guy, and a real asset to his team: I fully expect Red Bull to be four-time World Constructors’ Champions by the time he bows out.

  7. Martin Fuhs (@chapor) said on 27th June 2013, 9:22

    I have to laugh, the commentators on the Lemans 24hrs race were talking about this as if it was fact but then hastily added “but that is obviously just speculation at this point…” As long as we do not have a repeat of 1999, but then again, Webber is the master of high speed car flips… ;-)

  8. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 27th June 2013, 9:22

    I’m genuinely upset by Webber’s departure from Formula 1. It’s actually ruined my morning.

    I’m going to miss this guy. Great, fair driver who I’d have loved to have seen become a world champion. Very honest, non-nonsense guy who wasn’t rude or arrogant with it. He pulled off some amazing moves, had some brilliant drives and memorable victories. He is also one of the most unfortunate drivers in Formula 1’s long history and has had to suffer more than his fair share of heart-ache and misfortune throughout his long career.

    I’m glad he had the chance to leave the sport on his own terms and wasn’t pushed before he jumped. I’m really hoping he’ll get another victory before the season’s end. Webber’s going to be sorely missed and I think Formula 1 is very much worse for his departure.

  9. Glad to see another driver moving up from the WEC feeder series to the real thing. Very best of luck to him, 2014 is going to be a golden year for sportscar racing.

    • Guilherme (@guilherme) said on 27th June 2013, 22:32

      @ajokay I know it was a little joke and I actually laughed when I read your post at first, but isn’t a feeder series something you do really really well, win lots of races, fight for the championship and then move on to a higher category? Of those ex-F1 drivers on WEC, how many are race winners? How many have even a podium?

      Erm, Kobayashi, Fisichella and now Mark Webber? All other F1 entrants are so successful F1 drivers: Sebastian Buemi, Allan McNish, Marc Gené, Anthony Davidson, Antônio Pizzonia, Bruno Senna, Lucas di Grassi, Kazuki Nakajima, Nick Heidfeld, Shinji Nakano, Stephane Sarrazin, Gianmaria Bruni, Olivier Beretta and Pedro Lamy…

  10. Girts (@girts) said on 27th June 2013, 9:25

    I’m sad to see him go and hope that he wins at least one more race before the end of the year. One doesn’t have to be a Webber fan to enjoy his rivalry with Vettel or his interviews. It’s probably good that Mark is now leaving with his head up high, I think many teams would still be happy to hire him.

    5, 4, 3, 2, 1… Who will be Vettel’s team mate in 2014? Raikkonen seems to be the most likely candidate although I would prefer to see what di Resta can do in that car, then everyone could finally forget about the 2006 F3 Euro Series season…

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th June 2013, 9:39

      I think it’s more likely that Red Bull will recruit internally. They want someone who can win championships – Constructors’ Championships. They want someone who can bank enough points to secure the World Constructors; Championship, but not enough to threaten Vettel in the World Drivers’ Championship.

      • Girts (@girts) said on 27th June 2013, 11:29

        @prisoner-monkeys I also think that RBR don’t want another ‘rooster’ but that their second driver needs to be approximately as strong as Webber has been so far. However, I doubt that either Ricciardo or Vergne are good enough to fill his shoes, which is why the Raikkonen story might make sense.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th June 2013, 11:33

          I think Raikkonen would be too much of a risk. They don’t want someone who could potentially upset the established order.

          And recruiting from outseide the Red Bull family is practically an admission that the Young Driver Programme has been an expensive and extensive waste of time.

          • Girts (@girts) said on 27th June 2013, 12:04

            @prisoner-monkeys

            And recruiting from outseide the Red Bull family is practically an admission that the Young Driver Programme has been an expensive and extensive waste of time.

            But wouldn’t that be just admitting the truth? Yes, Vettel is a superstar now but it is the only success story that the programme can be proud of, which makes me think that it’s rather a coincidence. Buemi, Alguersuari, Speed and Bourdais never returned to F1 after leaving STR, their only F1 team. Liuzzi didn’t have much success at FI and HRT after his Toro Rosso stint either. The team has no clear leader at the moment as well, which means that either both drivers are equally great or equally mediocre (I tend to believe it’s the latter). And that is even without mentioning all the drivers that have been dropped before they got to F1, such as Brendon Hartley or Lewis Williamson.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 27th June 2013, 12:07

            But wouldn’t that be just admitting the truth?

            Probably. But when you’ve spent as much time and effort as Red Bull have, the truth is just an inconvenience.

          • uan (@uan) said on 27th June 2013, 15:09

            The RB Young Driver program isn’t a failure just because it hasn’t created (or identified) a second driver of Vettel’s calibre – he’s a once in generation driver. Buemi is a very good driver – he was on the Toyota LeMans team that finished just finished 2nd overall. You might as well call Webber a failure since he didn’t win any WDCs or isn’t considered one of the greats of this generation – though we can all probably agree Webber is a very good driver. Nor should it reflect poorly on the previous or current Toro Rosso drivers that they can’t dislodge either Mark Webber or Vettel.

            The thing with Vettel, that the other young drivers lack(ed), is that if RBR didn’t promote him, he would have been snatched up instantly by another team (imagine Vettel instead of Kovalainen as Hamilton’s teammate at McLaren in 2009 or instead of Button in 2010?).

    • gwenouille (@gwenouille) said on 27th June 2013, 9:59

      This is putting the heat on @ Torro Rosso. It’s been a while since Vettel switched from TR to RB. But this year, the pair is closely matched…

  11. muz (@murray1964) said on 27th June 2013, 9:29

    Good luck Mark.
    I will certainly be watching more sports car racing.

  12. Dave (@dworsley) said on 27th June 2013, 9:31

    CARN WEBBER. Put on one last show.

  13. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 27th June 2013, 9:33

    I am surprised in the sense that I recently read that Dietrich Mateschitz had personally offered Webber an extension for another year.

    On the one hand, I’m sad to see Webber leave, as he’s always been a driver I liked both on and off the track, but on the other hand it will be interesting to see Vettel go up against a different team mate. I think Raikkonen, Vergne, and Ricciardo are all good candidates for the seat. I hope it will be Ricciardo, though he will need to pull out some strong performances to win it. A Vettel-Raikkonen line-up would be interesting, and my guess would be that Vettel will have Kimi covered. There is something about the way Vettel has been maxing out every qualifying and race over the past few years that I just don’t see Raikkonen doing; Raikkonen has been very consistent, but not consistently excellent, imo.

    Back to Mark, if it has been his decision to leave, I wonder to what degree his decision has been influenced by the type of tyres currently in F1. Funnily enough, these days endurance racing is all about driving flat out for hours on end, whereas F1 is about managing the pace…

    I wish Webber a strong finish to his F1 career, starting with a win this Sunday!

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th June 2013, 9:38

      @adrianmorse

      I recently read that Dietrich Mateschitz had personally offered Webber an extension for another year.

      According to who? A lot of fiction gets written about driver contracts and offers.

    • Manished said on 27th June 2013, 11:08

      Raikkonen has been very consistent, but not consistently excellent

      1 win and 3 2nd places so far.

      The car suffer on wet weekend on the remaining 3 gps because the rear wing couldn’t generate enough downforce to switch on the wet compound tyre and harder tyre on cooler circuit.

      Consistent but not excellent?? It’s easy to say that when you are driving a car with enormous downforce that’s good on all kind of condition.

      • Feuerdrache (@xenomorph91) said on 27th June 2013, 11:32

        I don’t think RedBull has been “good in all kind of condition”: Australia, China, Spain? They were not often the fastest despite “enormous downforce” – so far Vettel has been achieving the maximum results in every race. Something which his other rivals failed to achieve.

      • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 27th June 2013, 11:43

        I stand by my opinion – and I stress that it is an opinion – of Raikkonen, and I take into account his performances of last year when he was always scoring, but not always heavily. Even this season, I wouldn’t place Kimi alongside Alonso and Vettel when it comes to dragging performance from the car, in particular in Canada.

        • Manished said on 27th June 2013, 13:01

          what you expect him to do in Canada when his rear brake was gone at the start of the race and the team underfueled him couple with 6 sec pit stop?

          Please read some team reports before making your judgement.

          Jeez, never stop to amuse me how people underrate Kimi.

    • KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 27th June 2013, 11:25

      these days endurance racing is all about driving flat out for hours on end

      @adrianmorse I watched Le Mans this year, and seem to remember that Audi’s win was helped by the fact that they looked after the fuel and squeezed out 11-lap stints and not 10 laps as previously thought they’d have to. At the start of the race it nearly seemed like a classic ‘Economy vs Speed’ race which would not have been possible to predict.
      On top of that, Audi #1 had to come into the pits from the lead whilst they spent almost 1 hour fixing the car, thereby losing the lead and handing it to Kristensen/McNish/Duval.
      I’m really not sure where people get this ‘racing is flat out’ nonsense from… All forms of motorsport have a degree of compromise and conservation built into them

      • AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 27th June 2013, 11:51

        @keeleyobsessed, the point I was trying to make is that these days, the driving in F1 is a lot more conservative than the driving in endurance racing, which I find ironic. Perhaps I overstated it a little bit, but even McNish himself said as much in the interview with Peter Windsor the week before Le Mans.

        • KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 27th June 2013, 13:51

          @adrianmorse McNish’s last (and only) year in F1 was 2002, over a decade ago and my first year of watching F1, I’m not willing to take his opinion on how F1 currently is. I’d be more inclined to take Buemi, Kobayashi or Senna’s advice on the differences between current-F1 and current-Le Mans…

  14. Caelmap said on 27th June 2013, 9:41

    Webber is my F1 hero, so I am very sad to see him go. I supported him from when I started watching in 08, but I am pleased he is going from his own decision. And I have been wanting to get into endurance car racing but have had no-one to support… I do now. Does anyone know how much is shown in the UK?

    I hope he has an amazing season, F1 simply wont be the same without him.

  15. robk23 (@robk23) said on 27th June 2013, 9:43

    F1’s loss is WEC (considerable) gain.

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