Mark Webber has today confirmed that he will be leaving Red Bull at the end of the season and walking away from Formula One altogether, believing that it is time to start a new chapter of his career with Porsche’s endurance racing programme.
The Australian driver has raced for the team since 2007, claiming nine wins with the team and finishing 3rd in the 2010 and 2011 drivers’ championships, as well as helping Red Bull win three consecutive constructors’ championships.
However, following the Multi 21 fiasco at this year’s Malaysian Grand Prix, where Sebastian Vettel overtook Webber against team orders, the Aussie’s relationship with the team plummeted, sparking rumors that he may be set to leave the team. However, not until today has there been official confirmation.
“I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula 1,” Webber said in a statement. “I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world.”
Webber will join Porsche next season as part of their squad for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and other endurance races.
The race to replace Webber is thought to be between Daniel Ricciardo, Jean-Eric Vergne and Kimi Raikkonen.
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.