Formula One’s dirty little secret is finally out in the open, Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber has signed a contract with Porsche that will see him contest Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) from 2014.
He leaves behind the most wanted seat in F1, driving an Adrian Newey designed race car that’s won three consecutive F1 world constructor championships. But he also leaves behind the irrevocably fractured relationship with three-time F1 drivers champ Sebastian Vettel who has beaten Webber in every year they’ve raced as teammates.
The first rule in F1 is “beat your teammate”, the second rule is “don’t crash into your teammate” and in that regard Webber’s copybook is looking decidedly smudged..
So, onwards to Porsche.
The 36-year-old Australian will join Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani, who’ve already been announced as Porsche factory drivers. Webber has raced at Le Mans twice before – finishing runner-up in the FIA GT Championship at the wheel of a Mercedes CLR sports prototype in 1998.
Of course Webber is known for one of Le Mans most famous (and terrifying) accidents, which occurred during practice for the 1999 race. Twice his car became airborne at over 186mph (300km/h), leaving the Australian vowing never to return.
During his F1 career he’s achieved 36 podium places, nine race victories and has started from pole position eleven times. From 2014 he faces a new challenge and one which he is relishing “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.”
Christian Horner, Team Principal of Infiniti Red Bull Racing said following this morning’s announcement “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.”
The decision on who will replace Webber in the F1 team will not be made until later in the year.