Mark Webber has announced his retirement from F1 at the end of the 2013 season. Webber is leaving Red Bull F1 after the current season after seven years with nine race wins, 35 podiums and 11 pole positions. He was also instrumental in the team’s three constructor championships. Webber has signed a contract with Porsche to extend for ‘several years’ for their LMP1 project which will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“It’s an honor 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. Porsche has written racing history as a manufacturer and stands for outstanding technology and performance at the highest level,” says Mark Webber.
This will not be the Australian’s first outing in endurance racing as he already race at Le Mans twice and in 1998 finished third in the FIA GT Championship alongside Bernd Schneider with AMG Mercedes. The 36-year-old Webber will be joining Porsche works drivers Timo Bernhard, romain Dumas and Neel Jani to campaign with Porsche beginning 2014.
“I’m very pleased to have secured Mark Webber for our LMP1 project as one of the best and most successful Formula 1 pilots of our time,” says Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche AG.
“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,” commented Christian Horner, Red Bull F1 Team Principal.
Red Bull will be looking to fill the seat that Webber leaves at the end of the season. A very likely candidate would be Kimi Raikkonen, who has made a strong comeback after a sabbatical in rally after his unsuccessful stint with Ferrari. Other candidates include Toro Rosso drives Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.