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GP Week : Issue 181
WEBBER AND THE PUSH FOR PORSCHE Red Bull’s ‘Multi-21’ team orders controversy has inevitably sparked speculation over Mark Webber’s future with the team. Given that his relationship with teammate Sebastian Vettel has now broken down completely, it is not surprising that there are questions over whether he will continue with the Milton Keynes-based squad. But many are questioning whether he will continue in the sport. Following events in Malaysia, reports emerged of Webber and Porsche talking to each other about a deal for the Australian to drive for the German manufacturer in sportscars, spear-heading Porsche’s return to the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race. Those rumours only strengthened following the Chinese Grand Prix, with reports suggesting that the two had agreed a five-year deal, something that was denied by both Porsche and Webber. The 36-year-old Australian, whose contract with Red Bull expires at the end of year, typically tends to sign rolling one-year contracts, renewing them each summer. But the events of Malaysia may well have been the last straw for the straight-talking Aussie. A strong bond with Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz notwithstanding, will Webber want to stay on another year to drive alongside a driver he doesn’t trust? “....Year by year, that’s how it’s always been for me, so come the summer, I will talk to Dietrich and then go from there,” Webber said in China. “If I’m driving well, performances are good, then we’ll make some decisions in the future but at the moment, it’s the second or third race and I’ve never ever made decisions on my career at this point in the season and don’t see... obviously it’s a bit of a topic at the moment for different reasons, but I don’t see why I should make any decisions at the moment for the future.” There’s also the question of whether Red Bull would want to retain him. Formula One history is littered with examples of how a healthy rivalry between teammates turned bitter and ended up hurting the team’s prospects in the overall title race. And if it comes down to a choice of Webber or Vettel, there is no doubt that Red Bull will want to hang on to Vettel, the wunderkid in whose career they have invested heavily, and who has won the world title for the last three years. So where does this leave Webber? The winner of nine grands prix has said in the past that he wouldn’t want to move from a top team like Red Bull to a lower rung outfit just to prolong his career in the sport. So if things with Red Bull don’t work out we could well be bidding Webber farewell at the end of the year. A move to Ferrari was discussed last year before Webber decided to stay on with Red Bull, but talks between them hit a wall over the summer when the Scuderia appeared to back off, losing Webber’s interest in the process. But the prospect remains that – if given the option – Webber may not move at all. He may well decide that what he’d like best is to stay at Red Bull and have another crack at beating Vettel. “I still enjoy driving the cars. The tyres have made it a little bit more challenging – the job as a driver has changed a bit for sure, but camaraderie is massive,” Webber told the BBC in Bahrain. “That's a big factor in this sport. This stuff [the constant speculation that surrounds F1], you get a bit long in the tooth for that. As you get older you get less tolerant of other aspects of the job, but ultimately the drug is still very powerful – to drive you to do the job you wanted to do in the first place which is driving the car.” F1 >>> NEWS 6 GPWEEK.com // 6 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: