27 Jun 2013

Mark Webber to drive for Porsche

Well the rumours have turned out to be true.Australian Mark Webber has just announced that he is leaving the Red Bull F1 team at the end of this season and that he has signed a multi year contract to drive the new Porsche LMP1 sports car at Le Mans and in the world endurance championship series.
He will be glad to be clear of the poisonous atmosphere of the Red Bull team where the totally obnoxious,untrustworthy Vettel rules the roost.Webber has had quite a succesful F1 career and even if he had not found himself alongside Vettel I am sure that he would have been looking to retire/move on anyway at the age of 36.
Webber has driven at Le Mans previously although he never made the race as he was in the infamous flying Mercedes team which were involved in a series of terrifying accidents in the lead up to and during the 1999 race.
I personally met Webber when he was invited to a launch event for the MGF sports car at Wakefield Park racetrack near Goulburn,NSW in 1996.At that time Webber was a very cocky 19 year old local Formula Ford driver from Quenbeyan not too far from Wakefield Park.Part of the launch consisted of a timed hillclimb where the local motoring journalists competed against each other driving MGFs up the Wakefield hillclimb course which was made up of part of the back section of the track and then a go kart track like ascent of a small hill .Many of the local motoring journos at that time were quite handy drivers and before Webber stepped into the car the best time of the day was 45.6 secs I seem to remember.And the journos had had about 5 runs each.Well Webber had never even sat in the car before as he only really turned up late in the day for the free dinner but he got in and drove upto the start line -- which meant that his experience with the car was driving about 5 metres very slowly- and then he went and blasted up the hill in 44.5secs.The MGF was a pretty mediocre little tin can of a car and I remember thinking at the time that he was in a totally different class to all the rest of us there.I was right.
So it will be great to see him in sports cars particularly as it will be a Porsche.The Le Mans cars really race.It is not the artificial contrived "show" that F1 has become.In sports cars Michelin make most of the tyres and they are designed to last not fall apart after 5 laps.The cars are able to overtake wherever they can -- not in some artificially designated DRS zone and best of all Sebastian Vettel has nothing to do with Le Mans as it runs way past his bedtime.
Best of luck Mark -- hopefully I'll be there in 2014 to watch you.

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