WEC is “closest thing to Formula One” – Webber

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Mark Webber says he’s not concerned about missing out on Formula One’s radical technological overhaul next year he “will have that” through his move to Porsche.

Webber is leaving Red Bull after this weekend’s race to join Porsche’s World Endurance Championship squad.

“Technically they are very advanced and the closest thing to a Formula One car,” Webber told the official F1 website.

“I want a different environment, a different series – to get a bit more balance,” Webber explained. “Most of the decision is for the off-track stuff. You want to have more balance away from the racing.”

This year’s World Endurance Championship features eight events to F1’s 19.

“It will not be a rocket ship to success,” Webber said of his impending switch. “We have to work hard.”

“But it is a super famous company – one of the most famous automotive brands in the world – so that is very exciting for me.”

Webber will also be returning to the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race. He previously competed with Mercedes at the La Sarthe track but suffered two high-speed crashes in which his car flipped over violently.

“I still have unfinished business at Le Mans,” Webber added. “I loved racing at Le Mans, even if we had tough times there.”

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.