It looks like the next twelve fixtures left in the 2013 calendar will be a farewell tour for Australian Formula 1 driver, Mark Webber. It’s not like we didn’t see his retirement from Formula 1 coming because rumors have been flying around since the Malaysia Grand Prix debacle. However, Webber has been adamant that his decision to leave wasn’t based on that. Another rumor that was circling the Red Bull Racing camp is that Webber was making a return to Sports Car Racing with Porsche. This one has turned out to be true.
“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 stage of his career.” – Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing’s Principal
The official word is that Webber has signed a multi-year contract starting from 2014, to compete in Porsche’s new LMP1 sports prototype at the Le Mans 24 Hours and in the sports car World Endurance Championship WEC. This fuels the fire of a coming war with Audi, since this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. If you caught any part of the race, you may have noticed numerous Porsche billboards all over the circuit. SPEED Channel also brought attention to ad space that Porsche bought, opposite Audi’s three garages saying (if memory serves), “Our Return. Porsche in Le Mans 2014.” That’s psychological warfare if I’ve ever seen it.
Webber’s racing experience is undeniable. He’s competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice in the past and will be a force to be reckoned with when the LMP1 finally makes its debut. In Formula 1, he’s held eleven pole positions and won nine Grand Prix; in addition to thirty-six podium appearances with the last one in Monaco. This man whose Twitter username is @aussiegrit has always been known as a class act. Despite being a vigorous racer, he’s also exuded a cool charm and respectability off the track that has endeared him to a huge fan base, and earned his competitors’ admiration. Even if he’s not your favorite, Mark Webber has been a worthy adversary to many and will continue to be one as he gets ready to begin the next chapter in a highly successful career.
“I realise F1 is seen as the absolute pinnacle of motorsport and I’ve worked with some incredible people, in particular Adrian Newey. I’ve driven in some of the toughest and most challenging conditions and circuits, and against some incredible drivers which I’ll continue to do until the end of the year. Will I miss some of this? Yes, of course, but time doesn’t stand still for anyone and it’s time to move on to my next challenge.” – Mark Webber