At the end of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship season Mark Webber will quit his professional racing career. The six-hour race in Bahrain on November 19 will be the last time the reigning World Champion from Australia will compete as a works driver.
After the Bahrain race, new tasks await the nine times Formula One Grands Prix winner. The 40-year old Webber will represent Porsche at global events and, as a consultant, will contribute by lending his experience to the motorsport programmes of the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer. This includes talent research, as well as driver training for up and coming professionals, and the huge number of worldwide Porsche amateur racers. Alongside rally legend Walter Röhrl (69), Webber is Porsche’s second representative. Both are distinguished by a successful racing career as well as by a huge affinity to Porsche.
Oliver Blume, Chairman of the Executive Board of Dr. Ing h.c. F. Porsche AG said, “Mark Webber stands for everything that Porsche implies: sportsmanship, power of endurance, straightforwardness and focused work for success. He is full of beans and always a thoughtful listener. I want to thank Mark for his great performance in the World Endurance Championship and I am pleased he will remain tightly connected to Porsche in the future.”
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President LMP1, is sorry to see the driver retire from the cockpit. “Already in the important period of building up the programme, 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.”
Currently the Porsche Team ranks first in both classifications. In the manufacturers’ world championship Porsche leads with 238 points ahead of Audi (185) and Toyota (137). Romain Dumas/Neel Jani/Marc Lieb have a 37.5 lead ahead of the best placed Audi trio. At the time of writing (13 October 2016), there are still three races remaining.
“I have arrived where I belong,” says Mark Webber. “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.” He continues: “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.”
Mark Webber has no need to quit his professional racing career. His lap times still top the time-sheets, he remains fit, his experience is priceless and his relationship with his teammates has bonded into lasting friendships. Webber always knew what he wanted after his successful Formula One career. “It was a big change from Formula One to LMP1 and an entirely new experience. But it came at the right time for me. I found I liked sharing a car and the chemistry between Timo, Brendon and me is special and something I’ll always remember. It will be strange getting into the race car for the very last time in Bahrain, but for now I will thoroughly enjoy every moment of the remaining races.”
Webber talks about his affinity to Porsche cars, this is not PR talk, it’s for real. As a teenager he drove a friend’s 911, and when he bought his own first Porsche, he went straight for a Turbo model. Today the Webber collection includes a 918 Spyder, a 911 R, a GT3 RS (991), a 911 GT2 RS (997), a 911 GT3 RS 4.0, a 1954 356 Cabriolet and a 1974 2.7 Carrera.
There is no question, Webber will be missed by both the spectators and his team mates alike. His easy-going style made him a favourite with the media, but without the pressures of racing on his shoulders at every race meeting, he will be able to relax a little more. Hats off to a hard-fought, and successful career!
Edited by: Glen Smale
Photos by: Virtual Motorpix/Glen Smale