Mark Webber says F1 retirement decision 'perfect timing' & he's looking forward to future
Veteran alludes to age and 2014 rule changes for decision
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 28/06/13 12:34pm
Mark Webber says his decision to quit Formula 1 at the end of the season represents "perfect timing" for him.
The Australian announced together with sportscar manufacturer Porsche on Thursday morning that he would be joining them next season to spearhead their return to the World Endurance Championship, including the Le Mans 24 Hours, meaning his F1 career will come to an end after 11 years following the Brazilian GP in late November.
Paddock speculation as to the reasons for his decision to walk away from both Red Bull and the sport immediately centred on the fallout from the Malaysian GP back in March, when Sebastian Vettel overruled team orders to overtake Webber to claim the victory. However, the Australian swiftly denied this was the case on his personal website.
Speaking publicly at length for the first time on his reasoning in Thursday's Drivers' Press Conference at Silverstone, Webber said it was the right moment for him to try something else and that the opportunity to team up with Porsche was particularly appealing.
"The timing is perfect for me," he said.
"I'm very, very excited about my new chapter and new challenge ahead. It's one of the most famous and most well-respected brands in automotive and motor racing in Porsche, so that's something that personally I'm very satisfied about taking on.
"The decision has been there for quite a long time for me actually, I've known for quite a while, and had a plan and stuck to it. But still in the meantime it's the profession I have now at this level and focusing on achieving very, very strong results in my last season in Formula 1."
The veteran of 203 grands prix turns 37 in August and was already the oldest driver on the grid this season by some four years following the retirements of Michael Schumacher and Pedro de la Rosa last winter.
Webber alluded to both his age, and the onset of big regulation changes in F1 for next season, as contributing factors to his decision.
"There's lot of reasons that come into the pot when any sportsman or woman comes to that time in their career when they want to call it a day. That's another small ingredient," he admitted.
"There's going to be big, big changes in the sport next year so I may as well going to do those big, big changes where my future's going to be.
"So let's see how the category is next year in Formula 1. I'll be interested to watch every now and then and watch these guys do their stuff."
Webber also denied that the fact that Porsche was the first to announce his 2014 plans, rather than current employers Red Bull, was any veiled criticism of the latter, before adding "it was about Porsche and Mark Webber today".
Indeed, he revealed that he had kept Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz - the man who he has dealt with directly over previous contract renewals - fully up to speed on his thoughts on his future for a number of months.
"I've helped the team today, they know they've got to make some decisions in the future," Webber said in reference to the team's search for a replacement.
"Dietrich has been completely up to speed with my thinking in the last six to eight months, so Dietrich has been absolutely on-board and on-message about with where I've been at.
"He certainly encouraged me not to rush my decision when I approached him earlier in the season and basically all of the right channels and avenues that we went through to get the message across as subtly as we could in terms of the announcement was done in the right way."
Webber also suggested on his website that he wasn't severing his links with the energy drinks completely, adding "going forward I will remain tightly inside the Red Bull family, working with the brand".
His retirement announcement means he has just 12 races left in his F1 career, with the first this weekend at Silverstone being an event he has won on two of the last three attempts.
The nine-times grand prix winner insisted that nothing would change in his approach to racing between now and Brazil and he was still fully focused on winning more races and helping Red Bull retain their world title.
"Going forward for the rest of the season it doesn't change a huge amount because I've known the decision [for a while]," he said.
"Nothing changes from my approach because now it's out for everybody, but the last few races obviously [I want to be] challenging for the top steps and when you get everything right you want to get wins as well.
"So I don't see that being a huge, huge difference. It's in my interests to keep my motivation up until Brazil and work hard with the guys - that's important.
"At this level the effort to get the car out there, I'm fully respectful of that, so I need to keep pushing for both myself and the team."
Don't miss the first two parts of our 'Closer to the Cockpit' series with Mark Webber and Martin Brundle during our British GP Qualifying and Race Day shows this weekend.