2013 will be Red Bull driver Mark Webber’s final year in the sport, as he moves to Porsche’s World Endurance Championship squad for the 2014 season.
The Australian has struggled relative to teammate Sebastian Vettel in recent years, frequently citing favouritism as a catalyst for conflict within the team. Several spats between the two drivers have emerged – most recently being the Malaysian Grand Prix debacle – and Webber has decided to give up on the sport without a world championship in hand.
Regarding his move to Porsche, Webber has said:
"It’s an honour for me to join Porsche at its return to the top category in Le Mans
and in the sports car World Endurance Championship and be part of the team. Porsche
has written racing history as a manufacturer and stands for outstanding technology
and performance at the highest level. I’m very much looking forward to this new
challenge after my time in Formula 1.
Porsche will undoubtedly set itself very high goals. I can hardly wait to pilot
one of the fastest sports cars in the world."
Interestingly, no quotes from Red Bull have been supplied from the team just yet.
Mark previously raced in the Le Mans race of 1999 with Mercedes, but a spectacular flip and crash resulted in him pulling out and switching to Formula 1.
He has spent the last few years in the fastest car on the F1 grid, but a cavalcade of problems – poor starts, KERS issues, team conflicts, as well as a general dislike for where the sport is moving – meant that his departure was an inevitability.
Regardless of his disappointments in recent years, the F1 paddock will sorely miss Mark. His straight-forwardness attitude won him many fans over the years, and the sport now lacks a driver who is always willing to speak his mind.
It also opens the floodgates of rumours about who will take his place at Red Bull for next year. Without trying to get into too much speculation at this early stage, I would suggest that Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg would be the initial candidates.