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Webber to leave Formula One for Porsche

ESPN Staff
June 27, 2013 « Ricciardo keen to stake Red Bull claim | Webber turned down F1 drives for 2014 »

Mark Webber will leave Formula One and sign for Porsche at the end of the season.

Ever since the team orders row that exploded in Malaysia Webber's future at Red Bull has appeared to be uncertain, with a move to Porsche ahead of its return to Le Mans in the LMP1 class next year his likely destination. Looking ahead to his move in to sports cars, Webber said that he's excited by the fresh start.

"Porsche has written racing history as a manufacturer and stands for outstanding performance and technology at the highest level," Webber said. "I'm very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula One. I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world."

The move will bring to an end a 12-year career for Webber in Formula One, with the last seven of those having been spent at Red Bull. Webber has won nine grands prix to date, and came within a race of winning the drivers' championship in 2010.

Webber calls time

© Sutton Images
  • Webber's decision to step away from Formula One is hardly a surprising one, but it is in keeping with a man who knows his own mind. Renowned for being one of the most honest drivers on the grid, Webber's position at Red Bull was realistically untenable after the team orders furore in Malaysia as the feeling he wasn't getting the team's full backing was always going to be hard to shake.

    Porsche is the perfect fit for Webber as the iconic marque makes its return to Le Mans in 2014, and Webber himself has unfinished business at the 24 Hours after his two freak accidents driving for Mercedes there in 1999.

    While thoughts of a potential Vettel-Raikkonen partnership will excite, the importance of Webber's role in Red Bull's almost unprecedented success in securing three consecutive championship doubles should not be overlooked. In a career that took him from Minardi to the dominant team in F1, Webber fought his way to the top and leaves when the time is right for him.

The 36-year-old Webber only signed one-year contracts towards the latter stages of his career in order to leave the sport when he felt he wasn't motivated enough to continue. He held talks with Ferrari over a potential move last year but opted to remain with Red Bull for another season.

It appears Webber's move has been accelerated by the public breakdown in the relationship between himself and team-mate Sebastian Vettel after Vettel ignored team orders to overtake Webber and win the Malaysian Grand Prix this year. That followed other controversial incidents between the pair, the most notorious of which when they collided fighting for the lead of the 2010 Turkish Grand Prix.

However, the driver line-up of Webber and Vettel has led Red Bull to three consecutive championship doubles - with Vettel taking all three drivers' championships - and the team has won 37 races in that time.

Kimi Raikkonen is favourite to replace Webber at Red Bull, with Christian Horner telling The Guardian yesterday: "Kimi would have to be an option, if he were to be available. We're in the fortunate position that there are an awful lot of people who would like to drive a Red Bull racing car."

Toro Rosso pair Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne are both also in contention for the Red Bull seat.