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GP Week : Issue 185
AND HE's OFF! Webber to sportscars with Porsche Mark Webber will call time on his Formula One career at the end of the year to join Porsche’s sportscar programme. The Red Bull driver announced his departure ahead of the British Grand Prix, vacating what is without a doubt the most sought-after seat in the sport. Webber’s planned exit and switch to sportscar racing has been rumoured for some time and comes as little surprise, especially given the breakdown in his relationship with world champion teammate Sebastian Vettel following the Malaysian Grand Prix when the German disobeyed team orders to snatch the win from Webber. “I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula One,” Webber said. “Porsche will undoubtedly set itself very high goals. I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world.” The Red Bull team learned of Webber's decision an hour before Porsche made their announcement, although, interestingly, Webber revealed that he had confided in Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz some time back. The Red Bull Racing F1 team have not announced a replacement for Webber, but former world champion Kimi Raikkonen has been tipped as favourite for the seat with the Milton Keynes-based squad also considering sister team Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo and Jean -Eric Vergne. “ We’re fortunate that we have the pool of talented young drivers at Toro Rosso to draw upon and we will also gauge what else is available in the marketplace,” Horner said over the British Grand Prix weekend. “K imi Raikkonen is a driver you would be foolish to ignore. We’re going to take our time; it’s important that we make the right decision. We don’t need to be in a rush.” Webber, who turns 37 this year, made his debut with backmarkers Minardi in 2002. He then spent two seasons at Jaguar before moving to Williams in 2005 when the Milton Keynes-based squad was bought by Red Bull. He returned to the re -branded Red Bull team in 2007 and scored all his nine Grand Prix wins with the outfit. However, after having competed for nearly 12 seasons at the top of the motor-racing ladder, almost winning the championship in 2010, the Aussie – regarded by rivals as a tough but extremely sporting competitor – seems to be wearying of the demands and commitments that a modern - day Formula One driver has to contend with outside the car. He has also timed his exit to coincide with the drastic rule changes set to kick in next year. “T here’s going to be big, big changes in this sport next year, so I may as well go and do those big, big changes where my future is going to be,” Webber said at Silverstone. “Let’s see how the category is next year in Formula One – I’ll be interested to watch every now and then and go from there ... watch these guys do their stuff.” F1 >>> nEWs 6 GPWEEK.com // 6 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: