Timo Bernhard has paid tribute to Porsche LMP1 team-mate Mark Webber ahead of the Australian star’s final professional motor race today at the 6 Hours of Bahrain.
Bernhard, speaking ahead of the season-ending World Endurance Championship event, told The Checkered Flag.co.uk that Webber’s attention to detail sets him apart from the rest of the field.
“The impact Mark has had on the whole Porsche organisation has been huge,” said Bernhard.
“His wide knowledge of motorsport is based on his attention to all the little details that go together to make a better package. Formula One drivers receive a lot of different parts throughout a season, and you have to manage those to be top-notch. Mark was able to do that, especially with the details of the aerodynamic sector which were so important.”
“He’s also, as we know, an amazing driver who can do everything you want at any given time. He is suited to this modern style of endurance racing where you need to be quick, consistent during a stint, and able to overtake traffic without getting held up. Thirdly he has a fantastic personality; he is able to bring the whole team together and motivate us to dig deep and get the results.”
“Mark is never afraid to speak his mind either, which is why he is so popular in WEC and motorsport in general. All of these things played a big part in getting the Porsche LMP1 team together and allowing it to develop into something successful.”
As a trio, Bernhard, Webber and Brendon Hartley have shared a Porsche 919 Hybrid since the German manufacturer first entered LMP1 in 2014.
Since then, they have amassed eight victories together in the WEC and claimed the drivers’ world title last year.
According to Bernhard, that success was borne out of a close working relationship between himself and Webber, who provided the team with both his speed and mentality from 14 years racing in Formula One.
“As drivers, we have benefited from each other, absolutely,” said Bernhard.
“I was able to offer him some advice about transitioning to sportscars at the start of the programme, with the things that were new to him like negotiating traffic and working in a car with two other guys. Also, he helped Brendon and myself with driving advice so we could all get the most out of the car.”
“I think a major thing was the attitude he brought over from Formula One. What I mean by that is he changed the way we thought about racing, because he came from a world where all the smallest details count for so much – you need to be able to dig deep. In endurance racing we don’t have as much time for that because we can’t set up an LMP1 car for one driver. That new approach Mark brought was one of the main reasons why we had so much success last season.”
Although the #1 Porsche is mathematically out of contention for the WEC drivers’ title, the 6 Hours of Bahrain presents one final opportunity for Bernhard, Webber and Hartley to win as a trio.
After sweeping all three practice sessions the Porsches were beaten by Audi in qualifying, but the #1 car will start from the front row of the grid after setting the second quickest time. According to Bernhard, the nature of the Bahrain circuit should play into the hands of the Porsches and allow Webber a good chance of rounding out his career in style.
“On single lap pace we have the advantage here but on the longer runs I think the field is much closer together,” he said.
“The cooler conditions should work in our favour, as we saw at Austin when the Audis were much quicker during the first two hours but after that we managed to close in on them.”
“We’re expecting the same trend to occur here in Bahrain, so hopefully we can get one final win together for Mark.”
The WEC 6 Hours of Bahrain gets underway later today (Saturday, November 19) at 16:00 local time.