Webber aiming for another British GP win before leaving F1
Silverstone, England (Sports Network) - Mark Webber from Red Bull revealed on Thursday that he is leaving Formula One at the end of this season and joining Porsche's new sports car program in the Le Mans 24 Hours and World Endurance Championship in 2014.
Webber made his F1 debut with Minardi in 2002 and has been with Red Bull since 2007. The 36-year-old Australian has nine wins in F1 -- all of them coming with Red Bull. He also has 36 podium finishes and 11 pole victories to his credit. Webber's contract with Porsche extends over several years. He has already raced at Le Mans twice. In 1998, he finished runner-up in the FIA GT Championship at the wheel of a sports prototype.
"The timing is perfect for me," Webber said during a press conference at Silverstone Circuit, the site of this weekend's British Grand Prix. "I'm very, very excited about my new chapter and the new challenge ahead. One of the most famous and most well-respected brands in automotive and motor racing is Porsche, so that's something which personally I'm very satisfied about taking on.
"The decision has been there for quite a long time for me actually. I've known for quite a while. I've had a plan, and I've stuck to it. But still, in the meantime, respecting the profession that I have now at this level and focusing on achieving very, very strong results in my last season in Formula One."
Webber's most recent win came in last year's British GP. He also won this event in 2010. Webber would love to get another victory in a race that is considered as a homecoming of sorts for many F1 drivers and teams.
"It's the home race for a lot of the teams, and it's my second home race, as I live in the (United Kingdom)," he said. "The (British) GP is a brilliant weekend. It's such a prestigious event, and that's why it's so nice to get a great result there."
Red Bull said the decision on Webber's replacement for next year will not be made until later in the season.
"I am sure Mark thought long and hard before making what has no doubt been a very difficult decision," team principal Christian Horner said in a statement. "His achievements in Formula One are extensive, and I am sure he will continue to push hard and build on that record until the end of the season. We support Mark's decision. He has been an excellent addition to the team since joining us in 2007, and we wish him all the best in the next stage of his career."
There had been much speculation about Webber's plans with Red Bull after this season concludes. The strained relationship between Webber and teammate Sebastian Vettel has generated much attention this season, particularly in the March 24 Malaysian Grand Prix.
Vettel, the three-time defending F1 world champion and current points leader, made a controversial pass on Webber in the late stages of the Malaysian GP. After the race, Webber had heated words with Vettel, claiming he disobeyed team orders.
Webber said the incident in Malaysia had no influence on his decision to leave Red Bull and F1 at the end of the season.
"No, I've had a personal plan, and I've stuck to it," he noted. "This is the next chapter."
Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, June 30. Race: British Grand Prix. Site: Silverstone Circuit. Track: 3.667-mile (5.891-kilometer), 18-turn road course. Start Time: 8 a.m. ET. Laps: 52. Miles: 190.262 (306.198 km). 2012 Winner: Mark Webber. Television: CNBC.