Mark Webber has announced he will retire from professional racing at the conclusion of the WEC season. Before his switch to sportscar racing with Porsche Webber made 215 Grand Prix starts. Webber is possibly most famous for getting an up-close and personal view of the rise of Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull. Which is a shame; Webber has 9 Grand Prix victories to his credit and won the WEC Driver’s World Championship with teammates Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley in 2015. As of this weekend, Webber has won 7 races in his WEC career, all with Porsche.
“I have arrived where I belong. Porsche is the brand I always loved most and the one that suits me the best. The 911 is iconic, it has got elegance, performance and understatement, and is never intrusive. It is just the right car for every scenario. I will miss the sheer speed, downforce and competition, but I want to leave on a high and I’m very much looking forward to my new tasks.”
Webber was one of the leading drivers for Porsche’s return to Prototype racing in 2014. Webber will step down from racing after the season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain in November. Webber will remain with Porsche as a brand consultant and serve as a consultant at global events.
Porsche LMP1 Vice President Fritz Enzinger was glowing in his praise of Webber. “Already in the important period of building up the program, Mark has strengthened us with all his experience and he seamlessly integrated himself into the team. Behind the wheel he is a fair fighter, never shy of even the toughest wheel-to-wheel battle. At the same time, he thinks strategically and is team orientated. This mixture makes him invaluable as an endurance racer. Winning the 2015 drivers’ world championship together with Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley almost seemed to be a logical consequence. Also thanks to his performance, we hope to win the world championship titles for manufacturers and drivers again in 2016.”
Porsche has yet to announce Webber’s replacement, though it is widely believed that Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy are the front runners for Webber’s seat. The two, along with Nico Hülkenberg, won overall at Le Mans for Porsche in 2015.
I for one will be sad to see Webber go. He was one of the good dudes in racing. We genuinely felt for him during his time getting so close to a world title with Red Bull. We all cringed and held our breath after his accident in Brazil. You felt great and sense of vindication for him when he won his WEC world title. In every way Webber was a professional on and off the track. His interviews were always handled with class and grace. Unfortunately he will not go down as one of the greatest drivers of all time. But he’s pretty damn close; he will go down as one of the biggest fan favorites. Everyone here at Shifting Lanes congratulates him on a stellar career and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.