Mark Webber has announced today that he will retire from professional Motorsport at the end of this year. Mark, who currently races in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Porsche, will end a twenty-five-year career to become a brand ambassador for the German manufacturer.
Mark’s last race will be the 6 hours of Bahrain on November; the final round of the 2016 World Endurance Championship. With three races remaining in the series, he is still in contention for the championship along with team-mates Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartely. Going out on a high is something that Webber highlighted in his announcement today:
“Of course hanging up my professional racing helmet is a very big decision but I’ve been extremely fortunate to receive great counsel from two of the legends of our sport, Sir Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda, about the timings of such a decision,” read Webber’s statement on his website today,
“The timing is right for me – you certainly view things a bit differently when you get a bit older and your priorities in life change. As with my F1 career, it’s nice to making the decision on my own terms.
“I’ve really, really enjoyed my time in the cockpit with Porsche and could never have envisaged having such a dynamic relationship with my two team-mates in the #1 919, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley. It’s been a sensational three years and off the back of three consecutive wins, I’m hoping we can continue our good form and finish this year strongly.”
Mark is perhaps best known for his eleven-year career in Formula One, with the Australian making a sensational debut for Minardi at his home race. He would race for Jaguar and Williams in the next couple of years, taking his first Formula One podium in the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix.
In 2007, Williams opted not to continue their contract with Webber, with Mark then having to seek out a new drive along with manager Flavio Briatore. This led to his signing for Red Bull. He took his second ever podium for the relatively new team at that year’s European Grand Prix, but it was in 2009 when the partnership began to take off.
After years of trying, Mark Webber would finally win his first Formula One Grand Prix at the 2009 German Grand Prix, following it up with another win near the end of the season in Brazil. 2010 would be a year of highs and lows for Mark, with a championship victory slipping away from him in the final few races thanks to incidents on track.
It was during 2010 that tensions within the team would begin to ignite. The infamous collision between Mark and his team-mate Sebastian Vettel at the Turkish Grand Prix, followed by accusations of the team favouring Vettel at the British Grand Prix, would begin a bitter rivalry between the two. This would come to a head at the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix, with Sebastian Vettel defying team orders to take the win away from Webber in a race that many suggested was the final straw.
Webber would retire from Formula One at the end of the season with nine Grand Prix victories, forty-two podiums and thirteen pole positions to his name. But that wasn’t the end of his racing career.
In 2014, Webber would begin racing with Porsche’s LMP1 Prototype squad in the World Endurance Championship. His first year would be a tricky one, with a key heartbreaking moment being in the 24 hours of Le Mans when the car was forced to retire while leading due to a broken anti-roll bar. His year would end with a hard crash in Sao Paulo, with his #20 Porsche splitting in half as a result of the crash. He would thankfully avoid serious injury.
His next season, however, was perhaps one of the best of his entire career. His first win in the championship would come at the site of his first Formula One victory; the Nurburgring. He would then go on to take three more wins in the next three races with his team-mates, Bernhard and Hartley, with the trio ending the year as the FIA World Endurance Champions after overcoming mechanical problems at the final round in Bahrain.
Mark Webber’s motorsport career will be remembered as one hell of a rollercoaster ride. From his emotional first Grand Prix win to his championship loss the following year. He even managed to maintain a lovable bromance with competitor and friend Fernando Alonso throughout it all. He finally got the championship win he deserved last year with his WEC crown, with Mark taking it thanks to his true Aussie grit.
Mark’s next race will be this weekend in the WEC 6 hours of Fuji in Japan. His #1 Porsche team currently lie fourth in the championship with three races remaining.
Featured image courtesy of MarkWebber.com – http://www.markwebber.com/news/2016/webber-confirms-retirement-from-motorsport-to-take-on-new-role-with-porsche/