Mark Webber refreshed, relaxed in Austin return

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Though he didn’t get the result he would have wanted – Mark Webber finished fifth in the No. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid with co-drivers Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley in Saturday night’s FIA WEC Six Hours of the Circuit of The Americas – he was still thankful to be back in the city where he got one of his last two Formula One podiums.

Webber finished third last November in his second-to-last F1 race, and enjoyed his return to Austin this time around.

“It’s pretty relaxed this year,” Webber told MotorSportsTalk in Austin. “The city is still great. Austin’s a great place. This race here at six hours is quite unique starting in daylight and ending at night. It’s quite different to F1, but still a very professional environment. Sensational manufacturers to be racing with.”

Ordinarily, Webber’s been accustomed to having a one-month break in August when the F1 calendar shuts down. This year, it’s been a three-month break in-between the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June and Austin this weekend.

Not that Webber’s been off. Testing of Porsche’s new high downforce aero package, which premiered this weekend, commenced along with other factory work.

“We’ve been testing, and it’s been very busy at the factory, so honestly it hasn’t been much of a break,” Webber said.

“We’re trying to do a better job of getting the balance right. We’ll keep learning with it and we’ll see what we get in Fuji.”

The race for the No. 20 car featured one of the more dramatic moments of the evening. Bernhard slid off course when the second hour downpour hit Austin, and narrowly avoided two already beached GTE cars. The No. 20 car needed to be craned out of the gravel, but was still able to continue to the finish.

Webber’s crew finished on the podium in the Silverstone season opener in April, and seek to be the trio that delivers Porsche’s new 919 its first win once the season half of the season commences at Fuji on October 12.