Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Mark Webber to leave F1 for Porsche's Le Mans challenge next year

       On the Thursday before the Silverstone weekend the teams kitted up the garages and we heard that the rumours were indeed true. Mark Webber had indeed signed a long term contract with Porsche to race an LMP1 car at Le Mans next year. Porsche’s return to the top class of Le Mans in LMP1 guise has certainly got sportscar enthusiasts geared up.  A topflight F1 driver is certainly a further boost to the sport. However, will this leave Mark’s legacy slightly tarnished, leaving F1 as a ‘nearly man’? Just like the recent retiree Giancarlo Fissichella, Webber was rated as a future champion, but when it was his time to shine that spark soon got stamped on by a dastardly and tremendously talented young team mate. Whatever your opinion there is no doubt Mark will leave F1 entirely dissatisfied.

Mark to bow out after 11 years in the business
 The important thing to remember is how old Mark is and what he has achieved during his long career. An awesome 5th place on his debut in a Minardi back in 2001 beckoned the dawn of a bright new talent, well liked and certainly quick.  Performances at Jaguar and Williams in following years impressed, but that maiden win eluded him in these teams in decline. Signing for the promising Red Bull team venture gave Webber the opportunity to spread his wings. After 2 seasons of the Adrian Newey’s car design coming into fruition, 2009 gave Webber a top car and for the next two years Webber shined as a serious championship contender and a worthy adversary to his new young teammate Sebastian Vettel. However, with Vettel developing into a phenomenal talent and a changing Red Bull team, it has not been all sweetness and light. Who can forget Turkey 2010 when Vettel swiped Webber off, with Red Bull quick to support the young German’s side of the garage. Even recently, senior Red Bull advisor and Vettel fan boy Helmut Marko openly criticised Webber as an inconsistent has been who can’t handle pressure. What is likely the catalyst for Webber’s exit from the team is Vettel’s disobedience of team orders to stay behind Webber at Malaysia this year. Anyone who has seen the on-board cam of this incident will notice a disgruntled Webber giving Vettel the finger as he was overtaken in violation of team orders and took the win.
Mark's car next year, the new Porsche LMP1

There is little doubt that a relationship like this can become corrosive quite easily. There has been tension bubbling between these two drivers for the many years together. Vettel openly stated that part of his antics at Malaysia was ‘payback’ for lack of support in the past.  At Silverstone 2011, a track Mark has always exceeded at, he also disobeyed team orders and tried unsuccessfully to throw it down the inside during the last 2 laps of the race. As Vettel has become interwoven within the fabric of the Red Bull team the car will be developed with his driving style conceded too more than Mark’s.  This environment surely is not healthy? Whatever the case I feel we have been robbed of a man still quick and in my mind more than capable of delivering a final blow to his dominant team mate in 2014. Signing out in a top car with talent shouldn’t be the way…