Mark Webber’s retirement timed to perfection
If there is a prototype for a role model in motor racing, then look no further than Mark Webber.
Determination, tenacity, verve and skill are just part of the chemistry that Webber took to the world stage after leaving Australia as a Formula Ford driver in the mid 1990’s.
Against massive odds and surviving horrendous accidents at Le Mans in 1999, Webber was given a ticket to Formula 1 with the help of compatriot and Minardi team owner Paul Stoddart in 2002.
What was originally marked as a one-off drive turned into 200-plus grand prix starts over an 11-year span highlighted by nine wins and 42 podiums.
Working his way from Minardi to Jaguar and Williams to Red Bull, Webber would encounter the full brunt of F1 politics, however he maintained a stiff upper lip, remaining resolute even in the most dire situations.
After deciding to end his F1 career at the end of 2013, Webber would leave the grand prix world without a world championship that, arguably, his unflinching resolve and dexterity commanded.
Serving the last three seasons at the top of Porsche’s factory program, sharing the LMP1 919 Hybrid with Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard, Webber would finally crack it for his first championship by lifting the World Endurance Championship driver’s title last year.
At 40 years of age, Webber, has named the 6 Hours of Bahrain on November 18 as his final assignment as a professional racing driver.
“Of course hanging up my professional racing helmet is a very big decision but I’ve been extremely fortunate to receive great counsel from two of the legends of our sport, Sir Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda, about the timings of such a decision,” Webber said.
“The timing is right for me – you certainly view things a bit differently when you get a bit older and your priorities in life change.
“As with my F1 career, it’s nice to making the decision on my own terms.”
Fritz Enzinger, Porsche’s vice-president for the LMP1 program that oversees the most sophisticated racing car in the world, summed up Webber’s qualities perfectly.
“Behind the wheel he is a fair fighter, never shy of even the toughest wheel-to-wheel battle,” Enzinger said.
“At the same time, he thinks strategically and is team orientated.”
In the meantime Webber is preparing for his final three WEC races at Fuji, this weekend, Shanghai on November 5 and the finale at Bahrain.
Those events represent potentially 18 hours of competitive racing for the driver who appropriately goes by his alter-ego, ‘Aussie Grit’.
Perhaps the greatest legacy Webber has left behind is the influence on a generation of youngsters to follow in his footsteps.
It is a time to celebrate and cherish these last few weeks of Webber as a top flight racing driver.
— Brendon Hartley (@BrendonHartley) October 13, 2016
— neel jani (@neeljani) October 13, 2016
— Timo Bernhard (@Timo_Bernhard) October 13, 2016
Pure example of what we all inspire to be on/off track. I’m incredibly lucky to share a portion of your career. You’ll be missed @AussieGrit
— Mitch Evans (@mitchevans_) October 13, 2016
@AussieGrit has been a great example of a professional driver, hard racer, hard worker and all round top block. Hat offs champ, true legend
— David Brabham (@brabsracer) October 13, 2016
— Dario Franchitti (@dariofranchitti) October 13, 2016
Top driver, top guy, a great example for all of the young drivers like me. Defenetly someone i look up to! All the best @AussieGrit
— Carlos Sainz (@carlosainz) October 13, 2016
— alex wurz (@alex_wurz) October 13, 2016
— GerardNeveuWEC (@GerardNeveuWEC) October 13, 2016
Welcome to the old boys club @AussieGrit , a great career and always done in style. 🏁
— Allan McNish (@allanmcnish) October 13, 2016
— oliver jarvis (@ollyjarvis) October 13, 2016
Date of Birth: 27 August, 1976
Place of Birth: Queanbeyan (AUS)
Residence: Buckinghamshire (GB)
Height/weight:1.83 m/76 kg
Marital status: married to Ann
Hobbies: Sports, mountain biking, flying helicopters
2016 Porsche works driver WEC, LMP1, wins at the Nürburgring, Mexico City and Austin
2015 Porsche works driver WEC, LMP1 , Drivers’ World Champion with Bernhard/Hartley, 4 wins (Nürburgring, Austin, Fuji, Shanghai), 3 pole positions, 2nd at Le Mans
2014 Porsche works driver WEC, LMP1 , 3rd Silverstone, Fuji and Bahrain , Pole position São Paulo
2013 3rd Formula One World Championship (Infiniti Red Bull Racing)
2012 6th Formula One World Championship (Red Bull Racing), 1st Monaco, Silverstone
2011 3rd Formula One World Championship (Red Bull Racing) , 1st São Paulo
2010 3rd Formula One World Championship (Red Bull Racing) , 1st Barcelona, Monaco, Silverstone, Budapest
2009 4th Formula One World Championship (Red Bull Racing) , 1st Nürburgring, São Paulo
2008 11th Formula One World Championship (Red Bull Racing)
2007 12th Formula One World Championship (Red Bull Racing)
2006 14th Formula One World Championship (WilliamsF1 Team)
2005 10th Formula One World Championship (BMW WilliamsF1 Team)
2004 13th Formula One World Championship (Jaguar Racing)
2003 10th Formula One World Championship (Jaguar Racing)
2002 16th Formula One World Championship (KL Minardi Asiatech)
2001 2nd Formula 3000 Championship (3 wins), Formula One test driver (Benetton Renault)
2000 3rd Formula 3000 Championship (EFR/Arrows, 1 win), Formula One test driver (Arrows)
1999 FIA GT Championship (AMG Mercedes, opt out after the Le Mans 24 Hours)
1998 2nd FIA GT Championship (AMG Mercedes, 5 wins)
1997 4th British Formula 3 Championship (1 win)
1996 2nd British Formula Ford Championship (4 wins) , Winner Formula Ford Festival Brands Hatch
1995 4th Australian Formula Ford Championship, 3rd Formula Ford Festival Brands Hatch
1994 Debut Australian Formula Ford Championship