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

  1. WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 27th June 2013, 9:49

    Well, I’m not gonna lie, I fully expected this. It just seemed to fit together nicely, with Webber, one of the world’s fastest drivers, a driver with Le Mans experience, could go to a team as an inevitable #1 driver and face some real success instead of being brow-beaten by a kid in love with his own image. Saying that, it doesn’t detract from the sadness of not having one of the most genuine, pukka, lovely blokes in all of F1 not in the paddock anymore. That aside though, it was the right decision. He was not going anywhere in F1, and at Porsche he will receive the support his talent so deserves.

    Regarding Webber’s replacement, I simply cannot envisage Raikkonen going to Red Bull. Why would Raikkonen leave a team that is a) providing him with a great car, b) not putting any pressure on him to do things he doesn’t like and c) is definitely getting the best out of him? Why would he leave that team to go to a high pressure commercial environment, if, in all reality, that team does not have an all that greater chance of taking the title in 2014 when the influence of the new engines come into play than his former team? Raikkonen’s only motives are a) cash, and b) the aerodynamic efficiency of Newey’s cars, something that’ll be of reduced influence next year anyway.

    Personally, I think this whole “We want Kimi” thing has all been a show, and has simply been a way of juxtaposing the Red Bull mentality to the whole Ferrari “we don’t want two cockerels in one hen-house” philosophy. But this is just folly, because Red Bull have an established #1 driver in Vettel, they don’t need another one. What Red Bull are really looking for is a #2, and I personally think they have Nico Hulkenberg, or maybe even Paul di Resta in mind. Ever since Red Bull claimed they were after Raikkonen, they have inadvertently admitted the failure of the Toro Rosso squad by not putting either of them in the frame. If Raikkonen can be linked to a Red Bull seat, I see no reason why Hulkenberg can’t be either.

    • Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 27th June 2013, 10:02

      @william-brierty FINALLY! Someone else gets it.

      There’s far too much politics at play at Red Bull for Kimi’s liking. Just because Kimi likes a drink and partying and Red Bull brand themselves as a ‘party’ team doesn’t mean there isn’t a whole lot of corporate and political stuff at play when you actually bother to look beyond the image the team present. Helmut Marko being a prime example.

      Why Kimi, who having left F1 because he was sick of all the politics and returned to Lotus because they don’t make him do a lot of the things he hates to do, want to leave them? It’s not like Lotus aren’t in contention for race wins. He’s third in the championship…

    • The reason why Kimi would be glad to join Red Bull is if
      a) Lotus cannot provide him with a car that can win races
      b) cannot pay him what he now gets

      Both reasons are related to money, more specifically financial situation of Lotus.

      Even if there would be some more PR work, I think Kimi would still prefer driving a race winning car than driving a possible mid-fielder or finding himself without a seat, in case Lotus just runs out of money.

    • Nick (@npf1) said on 27th June 2013, 10:57

      Agreed. Let’s not forget Kimi has had some terrible times with Newey designed McLarens as well. I highly doubt Kimi is amongst those who think Newey is a demigod.

      • Guilherme (@guilherme) said on 27th June 2013, 16:56

        @npf1 which were mostly down to politics (2003) and gross Mercedes unreliability? Times have moved on, Kimi has seen what Newey has been doing since 2009. He would have to be pretty thick to let his 2002-2006 stint at McLaren cloud his judgement.

        • Nick (@npf1) said on 27th June 2013, 19:35

          I don’t remember the MP4/18 being a failure and causing McLaren to miss out on the fruits of their labour due to politics. Don’t forget he suffered multiple parts failures through the years as well. While the most famous one was his own fault, things like this and this happened as well. We all know Red Bull’s KERS issues have been attributed to Newey’s search for Aerodynamic gains, so it’s not like Newey’s designs have become infallible over time. I’m not saying Newey would be his ultimate reason not to sign, I’m saying it could be an argument amongst himself.

          Then there’s the 2015 rules, which are likely to put a damper on aerodynamic influence on design. That would probably influence the length of his stay, if he goes, though. I’d imagine Kimi would be amongst the drivers who would sign for a team to be able to win a championship in one of two years, then continue.

          • Guilherme (@guilherme) said on 27th June 2013, 22:15

            @npf1 When I refered to politics I meant that Kimi was on course to win the title in 2003 and then came the Michelin tyre ruling which switched the table in Ferrari’s favour.

            I know fairly well that Newey’s designs can be fragile, Vettel himself lost quite a few victories due to unreliability. However we haven’t seen anything like Hockenheim 2004 or Nurburgring 2005 happening to Red Bull, have we? I just think that there are many better arguments against a Kimi to Red Bull scenario :)

            Regarding the 2014 regulation changes, don’t forget that the same should have happened in 2009, and it was exactly in that circumstance that Newey’s genious showed itself. It might level the playing field more, however, I’d bet my last penny that Lotus would still be behind Red Bull when it comes to aerodynamics. Furthermore, Red Bull’s and Lotus’ engines are the same, which will throw the balance between them completely towards the aero and mechanical design.

          • Nick (@npf1) said on 27th June 2013, 22:29

            @guilherme I can tell I’m not sleeping as much as I’m used to. I didn’t think of the tyre rules and got the year on the new regulations wrong. Sorry for that. :P

            Again, I did not intend to make a big point out of it, but wanted to say it could be a consideration for Kimi. I know it would be for me, and I’ve always believed (I don’t recall Kimi himself ever mentioning it) Kimi left McLaren because he was ‘done’ with multiple elements from that team.

            Lotus has improved as far as design goes from 2012 to 2013, but I can’t argue that the Red Bull will probably still be better. However, we’ve seen stranger teams than Lotus/Enstone innovate and win, and more successful teams than Red Bull lose significantly. I’m keeping my options open as far as that’s concerned and am only speculating, in that regard.

    • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 27th June 2013, 12:29

      @magnificent-geoffrey @funkyf1 – Précisément! I think people are getting carried away in thinking that the party driver and the “party team” (more like “political party team”) are a match made in heaven, especially if you consider Vettel and Raikkonen’s good relationship and that Raikkonen had Red Bull sponsorship during his WRC days. However whilst that could be an acceptable case for most drivers, this is not most drivers, this is Kimi. It simply makes no sense that Kimi should leave F1 to escape politics and PR, return on the proviso that he has minimal PR duties, only to jump ship to Red Bull and spend his days grunting, “Geox! The shoe that breaths!”

      @anssi – I think you’re not exactly up to date with the scenario at Lotus. Lotus are a team that have produced two race winning car in the same number of years, and they also have a household name and megastar onboard in the shape of Kimi Raikkonen. They are a team punching above their weight. Put simply, they are an investor’s dream. I give it less than a month before a major investment deal comes the way of Lotus, a deal that will probably remove any long term financial issues the team has. And let’s face it, Kimi Raikkonen is a F1 world champion and X20 race winner, he doesn’t need to blow the world away again as he did in his early years, he’s here because he has nothing better to do. Being a world champion with Ferrari has its other advantages; wonga, and plenty of it. I highly doubt Kimi is banging his fists on Lopez’s desk saying “I want x million per year”; it’s not as if he needs the money! And if Lotus went down the pan, I strongly suspect that Kimi would quite happily call it quits on a career to be proud of, not wanting to enter into the contractual negotiations he so hates. Also next year the aerodynamic advantage that Red Bull currently have will be substantially less influential, and I imagine the difference between the Renault powered Red Bull and the Renault powered Lotus would be rather minimal.

      @npf1 – Great point, didn’t think of that.

    • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 27th June 2013, 12:55

      If Raikkonen can be linked to a Red Bull seat, I see no reason why Hulkenberg can’t be either.

      Well, Kimi won 20 GP’s, is the 2007 World Champion, and the 2003 and 2005 vice-champion.
      Also, Lotus isn’t giving Kimi the car that can win championchips + Lotus often makes pit-stop blunders + Lotus is running out of money.
      The budget of RB is 4 times bigger than of his current team so RB is very likely to have a better car next year than Lotus.
      I think Kimi prefers doing a little more PR work and driving for the best team than driving a car that will get him no higher than 3rd place in the World Championchip.

      • WilliamB (@william-brierty) said on 27th June 2013, 14:21

        @paeschli – Kimi, the 2007 World Champion, will only be in F1 for another few seasons. A Hulkenberg and Vettel line-up would give Red Bull some longevity, as both of them are still young. And whilst Raikkonen has been successful in F1, Hulkenberg’s junior career is one of incomparable brilliance, something he has compounded in a brilliant first few seasons in F1. Regarding the Lotus budget, it has produced a car only marginally off the pace of the Red Bull. Pound for pound, Lotus are F1′s best team, and if that doesn’t attract serious investment, I don’t know what will. Also Red Bull’s main advantage, the aerodynamic brilliance of Newey’s cars, will be of a lesser influence in the engine dominated 2014+ era. I also think you have rather misunderstood Raikkonen’s aims when he returned to F1. To put it simply, there were none. It wasn’t like Schumacher in 2010, “I only want the title”, he frankly had nothing better to do. He’s a competitive guy and of course he wants to win, but he’s not looking to set the world on fire like Schumacher was. Why would Raikkonen enter into stressful contractual negotiations just to get a marginally better car in 2014, and a whole load of PR? He won’t.

        • Patrick (@paeschli) said on 27th June 2013, 16:19

          You seem pretty sure that Kimi won’t go to RB but he admitted considering it. Also he was twice vice-champion with an Adrian Newey car so I think he has good memories of his McLaren time.
          Also you say that he doesn’t want the fastest car (or at least that he is OK with a car which is slightly off the pace) but why swapped he McLaren for Ferrari in 2007? Because he thought that Ferrari could give him a better car! Every driver wants to drive the fastest car available and Kimi isn’t different, IMO.
          Also, RB is a lot more than Adrian Newey, I strongly believe they will be in the top 3 again even if the cars relie less on aerodynamics.

    • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 27th June 2013, 14:45

      I 100% agree.

  2. Mallesh Magdum (@malleshmagdum) said on 27th June 2013, 9:50

    Sad to see him go. Mark Webber and Rubens Barichello are the drivers who we all would have loved to see as an F1 Champion

  3. andae23 (@andae23) said on 27th June 2013, 9:54

    Very happy with this news. Though Red Bull has given him a car that is able to win since 2009, the environment within that team was intoxicating. He could have gone Barrichello and move to a back-marker team, but this move shows he simply wants to race at the sharp end of the field, and if Formula 1 can’t give him that, why not go somewhere else?

    The World Endurance Championship is probably a place where he would feel at home: the racing is fair, collegiality between teams and drivers is as good as it gets in motorsports, PR is much less of a thing and the racing is pure in comparison to Formula 1. I’m so happy this rumour turned out to be true for once!

    • and the racing is pure

      I can only think of Webber, McNish, Jarvis, Loterrer, Lapierre and Sarrazin all on track at the same time. That’s smarts, agressiveness, consistency, technique, wits, experience. True driver qualities split between six guys that can all go flat out at any given moment, in very competitive cars.

      I think we’re about to witness the best 24 Hours of Le Mans in years, maybe even decades…

  4. Antonio Nartea (@tony031r) said on 27th June 2013, 9:59

    I’ve said it back when it was just a rumour: smartest career choice, no doubt. Mark, just like McNish or Wurz, is one of those drivers who I always thought they somehow fit endurance racing more than Formula 1.

    If Porsche are in it for the long run (and it certainly looks like it for the moment), I can see him going for the same kind of success McNish has with Audi. Seriously, I’m predicting by 2016 Mark will have won the 24H once, at least.

    Here’s hoping for a Webber-Bernhard-Dumas trio in one of those cars. That would be a massively threatening line-up for everyone on the grid.

  5. Troy Longstaff (@troylongstaff) said on 27th June 2013, 10:04

    Makes me sad hearing this, regardless of the fact we sort of knew it was inevitable either this year or next. All the late nights staying up watching him struggle through the Jaguar and Williams days, before seeing him crack that first win which was like lifting a whole country of pressure off his back with Red Bull.
    We’ll miss you in Formula One, Mark, you are a breath of fresh air compared to some of the PR robots patrolling the paddock.
    I remember watching your first pole position and your first win (which wasn’t difficult because they were on consecutive days!), and I remember your first podium.
    You’ve done a nation proud, and I hope your career with Porsche continues in the rich vein that your Formula One career has been.

    Cheers, mate :)

  6. AdrianS said on 27th June 2013, 10:04

    I bet Red Bull will wait till the last minute to make the decision. Can’t wait for the desperation in the Vergne/Ricciardo battle. I hope they really turn up the heat, though there’s no reason why they would have slacked off since the joined F1.

  7. tandrews (@tomand95) said on 27th June 2013, 10:07

    As an Australian, Mark was one of the reasons I started following F1 as a youngster. It was hard to watch sometimes when his williams kept breaking down and he had all that bad luck, but his time at Red Bull has been great to watch, especially 2010 when he came so close. I hope he finishes the season strongly and doesn’t fade away, another 1 or 2 wins would be a great way to finish off his F1 career.

    And now it begins, for the first time since 2009 RBR’s driver line up will change. I can only see 3 drivers in contention being Kimi, Dan and JEV. Being an Aussie I’d love to Ricciardo get the seat but Vergne has been great in monaco and canada and the current standing between the 2 toro rosso boys is about level after Dan’s stronger start to the season. It all depends how much faith Red Bull have in their young drivers program.

    If Kimi goes to Red Bull that will leave a seat (or maybe 2 if Grosjean doesn’t lift his game) open at Lotus and maybe Dan or JEV might have a chance at a seat there if they want more experience over Valsecchi.

  8. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 27th June 2013, 10:08

    F1′s worst kept secret now official?

  9. Rooney (@rojov123) said on 27th June 2013, 10:10

    With Force India giving a statement that they will not stand between their driver and a potential transfer to a new team, I keep wondering if Redbull is trying to rope Di Resta in. Also, FI has decided to give their third driver some Friday practice experience midway through the season. Surely all these statements coming out on the eve of Webber’s anouncement can’t be a coincidence?
    Di Resta to Rebull, anyone?

    • Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 27th June 2013, 10:34

      Why Di Resta? He’s nothing special in my eyes

    • Girts (@girts) said on 27th June 2013, 11:02

      It’s difficult to say, last year Kovalainen was widely expected to join another team, there were rumours about talks to Ferrari and McLaren but he was left without a drive after all and the same thing could happen to di Resta this year as well.

      That said, I would love to see di Resta driving a Red Bull, he would finally get the chance to fight Vettel in the same machinery. Even though I doubt that di Resta would beat him, I think that Paul deserves the chance.

  10. Tayyib (@m0nzaman) said on 27th June 2013, 10:18

    A solid F1 career for Mark Webber always said it how it was had showed good speed and determination. Good luck in the future and in Le Mans F1 will lose his Aussie Grit.

  11. petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 27th June 2013, 10:23

    Good luck to him – I can’t wait to see how the new Red Bull driver gets on against Vettel.

    It won’t happen but I think Red Bull should go for Kobayashi! Come on Red Bull, make it happen!

    • Slr (@slr) said on 27th June 2013, 10:24

      As much as I’d love for it to happen, I don’t see Red Bull taking a driver who will likely have missed a full season of F1 racing by the end of the year.

  12. Slr (@slr) said on 27th June 2013, 10:33

    Good luck to him in WEC.

  13. Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 27th June 2013, 10:36

    Now, the question is who is his replacement? Honestly I’m skeptical it will be Raikkonen but who knows…

  14. LexBlair (@lexblair) said on 27th June 2013, 10:39

    To this day I still believe that 2010 should have been his….

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 27th June 2013, 10:43

      Maybe if he didn’t bin it in Korea or Valencia…

      • uan (@uan) said on 27th June 2013, 15:51

        @david-a

        or, sad to say, “choke” in Abu Dhabi. What’s kept me from being a big fan of Webber is that after 2010, he blamed not winning the WDC on the team for not supporting him as their “#1″ (some comments after Brazil 2012 support this and even his comments leading up to Brazil 2010) as opposed to taking responsibility for his own performance.

  15. HiPn0tIc (@hipn0tic) said on 27th June 2013, 10:39

    It’s a sad day for F1 world. It was expected and i really hope the best for him.
    With his departure a seat at the RBR will be open. Like others here, i’m not seeing that Kimi will be that pilot.

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