Former Formula One race winner and current World Endurance Champion Mark Webber announces retirement from motor racing at the end of 2016. His team, Porsche, announced this in a statement today. Webber, 40, will make his final competitive race start at the season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain next month.
Mark Webber Announces Retirement from Motor Racing at End of 2016
Early Career and Formula 1
Webber’s career took off in sportscars with Mercedes in the late-1990s, where he famously flipped at Le Mans at a 1999 event. He vowed to never return to Le Mans. However he would return in 2014, 2015, and 2016, but without success.
Webber started his F1 career with minnows Minardi in 2002. He would score points in his debut at his home race – the Australian Grand Prix. Webber would move to Jaguar for the following season, followed by Williams. He finally would settle in Red Bull Racing for 2007. Webber stuck with the team through its building phase, before being given a race-winning car for 2009. Webber won his first race in his 130th attempt in Germany.
Formula 1 to WEC
A title challenge was in the cards in 2010. However, in a season littered with mistakes from him, teammate Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, and Jenson Button, Webber found himself pipped by his team mate at the final race of the season. Reliability and struggling to adapt to the new Pirelli tyres hindered Webber for much of the rest of his career. However he would win three races in the Pirelli-shod era. In 2013, Webber famously participated in a battle with Vettel at the Malaysia Grand Prix. This event saw Vettel disobey a team order to take the victory away from Webber.
Webber announced his departure from Formula One to take up a new project with Porsche for 2014. The first season for the new team would be tough, with the year ending in a violent crash. The first victory would come for the trio of Webber, Brendon Hartley, and Timo Bernhard in the Six Hours of Nürburgring – the scene of Webber’s maiden F1 victory. Four victories in succession launched the trio into championship contention. They duly took the title despite reliability issues at the final event.
End of Career
2016, however, has not gone according to plan for the reigning champions. Currently only fourth in the championship, despite three wins on the bounce. As Mark Webber announces retirement, he opens up a very hotly sought-after seat in top-level motorsports. The likes of Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber, Mitch Evans, Juan Pablo Montoya and Nico Hülkenberg are believed to be under consideration at this stage to replace ‘Aussie Grit’ – one of Australia’s greatest and most successful racing drivers.