Formula One driver Mark Webber has inked a multi-year contract with Porsche to pilot the carmaker's new sports car program. Webber will be retiring from Formula One racing at the end of the current season, leaving the Red Bull racing team. Starting in the 2014 season, Webber will be driving Porsche’s new LMP1 sports prototype at the Le Mans 24 Hours and in the sports car World Endurance Championship WEC.
It will not be the first time he will compete in Le Mans as he already took part in the race twice. In 1998, the Australian was runner-up in the FIA GT Championship. Through course of his Formula One career -- from 2002 until now -- Webber has gained 36 podium places, nine race victories and 11 pole positions.
Webber will join Porsche works drivers Timo Bernhard of Germany and Romain Dumas of France, as well as the former Formula One test driver Neel Jani of Switzerland. Bernhard and Dumas won the overall victory in the 2010 Le Mans while Jani has been competing in the LMP1 class since the same year. Webber remarked that it is an honor for him to Porsche on its return to the LMP1 class in Le Mans and in the sports car World Endurance Championship.
He said he can hardly wait to "pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world.” Webber is currently in fifth place on the Formula One overall driver championship standings for the 2013 season. Webber had his Formula One debut at the Australian Grand Prix in 2002, and had raced for Minardi, Jaguar and Williams, before joining Red Bull in 2007.
“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,” says 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.”
“I learned to appreciate Mark’s qualities when we were both involved in Formula 1,” says Fritz Enzinger, Head of LMP1. “He is one of the best pilots I could imagine for our team. I’m absolutely delighted that we have such an experienced and fast regular driver onboard from 2014.”