Starting in 2014, Mark Webber will no longer be Red Bull’s second F1 driver. Instead, Webber announced today on his website, the 36-year-old Australian will be driving an LMP1 endurance race car for Porsche.
Webber signed a multi-year contract with Porsche to pilot its new-for2014 P1 car in the World Endurance Championship, which includes the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“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,” Webber said on his website.
“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.”
“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,” said Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche AG.
“Mark is without doubt one of the world’s best race drivers, he has experience at the Le Mans 24 hour race and on top of that he’s been a Porsche enthusiast for many years.”
Webber drove at Le Mans for Mercedes in 1998 and 1999, though he didn’t start the second race after his Mercedes CLR got airborne over the Mulsanne Hump and crashed heavily. He won five races in 1998, with three more podium finishes. He has been absent from sports cars since.
While in F1, Webber scored nine wins, 11 poles, and 36 podium finishes. Since signing with Red Bull, however, he was treated as second best to team mate Sebastian Vettel, despite team management claiming both drivers were equal.
The offer by Porsche gives Webber a chance to start a new career with a top-rank manufacturer with a proven track record. Porsche has won Le Mans 16 times, more than any other manufacturer.
Porsche has already announced that works drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas will drive the new Porsche, and also signed former Rebellion Racing driver Neel Jani earlier this week.