Mark Webber has announced that he is to retire from motor racing at the end of the current World Endurance Championship season.
The affable Australian will end his three year stint at the top level of sportscar competition to take up a representative role with Porsche
Webber’s impressive career spans back to 1994 – a total of 22 years – during which he has raced and won in some of racing’s top categories.
The World Endurance Championship finale in Bahrain on November 19 will be his last race with the Porsche factory LMP1 team.
“I have arrived where I belong”, said Webber
“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.”
The 40 year old will begin his new role in 2017, which includes consulting Porsche’s international racing programmes and representing the team at public events.
Webber joins two-time world rally champion Walter Rohrl as the second person to take up this position.
“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,” said Porsche LMP1 vice president Fritz Enzinger.
“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.”
Webber started racing in 1994, taking part in the Australian Formula Ford championship.
In 1996 he made his début in Europe, claiming third in the hotly contested Formula 3 series.
Extra-curricular outings in sportscars, including the infamous Mercedes Le Mans programme of 1999, complemented his unabated rise up the junior single seater ladder until he reached Formula One with Minardi in 2002.
A switch to Jaguar and then Williams helped establish his standing, before he signed with Red Bull in 2007 at the start of the team’s golden era.
Partnering Sebastian Vettel, Webber claimed nine race victories and finished third in the Formula One drivers’ championship on three occasions.
The 2013 season saw him announce a new chapter in his career, with a move to the new Porsche LMP1 factory programme.
After a development season in 2014, Webber and his co-drivers Hartley and Bernhard captured the 2015 world title after dominating the middle of the campaign. In 2016, following a tough start to the year, the trio are in pursuit of their fourth consecutive with three rounds remaining.
“It was a big change from Formula One to LMP1 and an entirely new experience. But it came at the right time for me,” reflected Webber.
“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’s announcement leaves the door open for a number of Porsche factory drivers to fill his seat in 2017. Possible candidates include Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber, who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans together in a Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1.
Force India F1 driver Nico Hulkenburg, who joined Tandy and Bamber for that race, is out of running having renewed his contract with the team last year.
Other Porsche works drivers who could be considered include Michael Christensen, Richard Lietz, Frederic Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet, Joerg Bergmeister, Wolf Henzler and Patrick Long.
Webber and his team-mates will continue their defence of the World Endurance Championship at the 6 Hours of Fuji on October 16.