Porsche has confirmed it’s poached Formula One driver Mark Webber from Red Bull Racing to race for it at the 2014 Le Mans 24hrs. The 36 year-old Australian has signed a multiple-year contract to drive Porsche’s new LMP1 challenger, which is aiming to give Audi a bloody nose in the world’s most famous endurance event next year.
What does Mark Webber know about driving a Porsche endurance prototype at Le Mans?
Quite a bit – Webber previously raced at Le Mans in 1998, and was infamously involved in two high-speed flips in his aerodynamically challenged Mercedes CLR during the 1999 event, before heading into an F1 career in 2002.
Wolfgang Hatz, Porsche’s R&D chief, said: ‘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. Mark is without doubt one of the world’s best race drivers, he has experience at the Le Mans 24hr race, and on top of that he’s been a Porsche enthusiast for many years.’ Incidentally, Webber bought a 611bhp Porsche 911 GT2 RS in 2011, so Hatz isn’t wrong about the Aussie’s penchant for quick Porkers…
Porsche will enter two new LMP1 racers at the 2014 Le Mans 24hrs, and alongside Webber, Porsche has already confirmed two long-time works drivers Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas will have seats, as well as the ex-Formula 1 test driver Neel Jani.
What sort of legacy does Webber leave behind in F1?
His record of nine race victories, 36 podiums and two third-place finishes in the drivers’ championship, as well as contributing to Red Bull Racing’s three consecutive constructors’ titles from 2010 to 2012 is none too shabby.
However, Webber’s often been overshadowed by RBR teammate Sebastian Vettel, and criticised his team for seemingly favouring his younger German rival. Plus, he’s notoriously struggled to convert strong qualifying performances into points with inconsistent starts.
>> Will you miss Mark Webber in F1? How do you rate Porsche’s Le Mans title chances? The floor is open for your comments below