Webber Headed to Porsche LMP1 Team in 2014 | Edmunds

Webber Headed to Porsche LMP1 Team in 2014

Just the Facts:
  • Formula 1 veteran Mark Webber will leave the Red Bull team to join Porsche's LMP1 program.
  • Webber's move spurs speculation that Kimi Raikkonen will leave Lotus to partner with Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull.
  • Webber will compete in the new Porsche LMP1 sports prototype at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2014.

STUTTGART, Germany — Formula 1 racing veteran Mark Webber has signed to drive for Porsche in the World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans beginning in 2014.

Webber will compete in the new Porsche LMP1 sports prototype at next summer's 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Webber leaves one of the top rides in F1, Red Bull Racing, which has won the last three world driving championships with Sebastian Vettel. However, the status of the Australian driver in the Red Bull hierarchy has been tenuous, with the team favoring the young Vettel.

Webber's decision intensifies speculation that Kimi Raikkonen, the former world champion who returned two years ago after taking a hiatus from F1, will move to Red Bull to partner with Vettel.

Raikkonen won the 2007 title with Ferrari but left the sport after the 2009 season. He returned with Lotus in 2012 and has won two races since his comeback.

Webber, 36, has driven for Red Bull the past seven seasons, scoring his first two grand prix victories in his third season with the team in 2009. The next season, he won four races and finished 3rd in a stirring finish to the season that saw Vettel win his first world championship.

Webber has nine career F1 victories, but his dissatisfaction at Red Bull has been evident at times over the past several seasons. He returns to road racing, where he had success and two starts in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in concert with Porsche's return to the top tier of endurance sports-car racing.

"I'm very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula 1," said Webber in a statement. "Porsche will undoubtedly set itself very high goals. I can hardly wait to drive one of the fastest sports cars in the world."

He will join veteran Porsche factory drivers Timo Bernhard of Germany and Romain Dumas of France, plus ex-F1 test driver Neel Jani of Switzerland

"I'm very pleased to have secured Mark Webber for our LMP1 project as one of the best and most successful Formula 1 drivers of our time," said Wolfgang Hatz, board member for research and development at Porsche AG. "Mark is without doubt one of the world's best race drivers. He has experience at the Le Mans 24 hours race and on top of that he's been a Porsche enthusiast for many years."

Porsche is the most winning marque in the history of the Le Mans classic. Its last overall victory came in 1998. It has not participated in the top-level Prototype 1 category since then, choosing to focus on GT racing.

Edmunds says: The shine has been gone from Webber's relationship with Red Bull for some time and he's at a point in his career where a move is hardly unexpected. Porsche's return to LMP1 will benefit from his talents.

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