The reaction to Mark Webber’s decision to quit Formula 1 and switch to endurance racing with Porsche has captured the attention of the media across the world.
To be honest we’ve been a little surprised by how much coverage there has been, especially in the F1 paddock. Perhaps that says a lot about the high regard in which Mark is held, where his no nonsense and honest approach is greatly appreciated.
So here’s a grab of some of the comments that have been made since Mark’s move to Porsche was announced, starting with the FIA’s Thursday press conference ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
Q: A momentous announcement from you today. Tell us the thinking behind the announcement of your retirement from Formula One. And how significant is the year, 2013 to 2014?
Mark WEBBER: Well, the timing is perfect for me. Very, very excited about my new chapter and the new challenge ahead. One of the most famous and most well-respected brands in automotive and motor racing in Porsche, so that’s something which personally I’m very satisfied about taking on. The decision has been there for quite a long time for me actually. So, I’ve known for quite a while, I’ve had a plan and I’ve stuck to it. But still, in the meantime, respecting the profession that I have now at this level and focusing on achieving very, very strong results in my last season in Formula One.
Q: Was it the new engine regs? Did that have anything to do with it?
MW: There’s lots of reasons that come into the pot, I think, when any sportsman or women comes to that time in their career where they want to call it a day. That’s another small ingredient: there’s going to be big, big changes in this sport next year, so I may as well go and do those big, big changes where my future is going to be. Let’s see how the category is next year in Formula One – I’ll be interested to watch every now and then and go from there. Watch these guys do their stuff.
Q: Jenson, Fernando, you’ve raced against Mark for many, many years. What are your thoughts about the announcement today?
Jenson BUTTON: It leaves the seat free for someone else, doesn’t it? It’s not really a surprise. I think Mark’s career’s been a little bit similar to mine in a way in terms of struggling in the first few years to find a seat and a drive that you think you deserve and then being with a team that can give you victories. It’s obviously the right time so fair play to him.
Fernando ALONSO: Yeah, I think it’s a good time for him, good opportunity. As Mark said, he’s moving to a very prestigious car brand and probably the most famous race in the world – together with Formula One. I think he’ll have a lot of fun behind the wheel, as he’s doing now, with a little bit of less problems outside the wheel that we have now in Formula One. We enjoy 19 Sundays a year and the rest of the time is a little bit of a stressful time. With the new series I think he will have a little bit more fun and I wish him the best of luck for the rest of the championship and for the future.
Q: (Alex Popov – RTR) Mark, you will be missed and I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this. How much will your approach change for the remaining races?
MW: I think going forward, for the rest of the season, it doesn’t change a huge amount to be honest, because I’ve known the decision… nothing changes for my approach now because obviously it’s now out for everybody, but in terms of the last few races, obviously challenging for the top steps and when you get everything right, obviously we want to get wins as well. I don’t see that being a huge huge difference. It’s in my interest to keep the motivation up until Brazil and work hard with the guys. That’s important. At this level, I’m fully respectful of the effort that goes in to get the car out there, so I need to keep pushing, for myself and for the team because they put in a lot of work, obviously, at the factory at Milton Keynes, Renault, everyone.
Q: (Alex Popov – RTR) Mark, during your first career at Le Mans, we remember a couple of crashes.
MW: Le Mans, yeah, in 1999, that era, those cars were very very… I think the regulations were quite dangerous. We had a lot of cars having some big shunts in that era. I think all manufacturers had issues with keeping the cars on the ground, just because of the way the regs were written and they were quite quick. Look, motor racing is dangerous, I accept that, we all know that. Motor racing is dangerous. Le Mans is a classic race. The cars are not slow there now but I’m not a guy who wants to wrap myself in cotton wool either. I’m looking forward to the challenge and yeah, it’s something which was in my thinking in terms of the safety factors, all those things which have improved since we were there last and they will continue to improve as well, not just the circuit but the cars. We’ve gone forward since 13 years ago.
Q: (Bob McKenzie – Daily Express) Mark, why did you chose to go that route of announcing it this morning on Twitter before you told the team?
MW: Well, it was a Porsche announcement. I informed Christian before the announcement which contractually I should do, so that’s what we did.
Q: (Bob McKenzie – Daily Express) It was just the guys in the factory didn’t know.
MW: Well, it wouldn’t have been an announcement then, would it? So you’ve got to get the balance right. Obviously I will talk to the factory of course at some stage. They’ve been superb for me on the floor there but Porsche were very keen to make the announcement. It was about Porsche and Mark Webber today.
Q: (Bob McKenzie – Daily Express) It wasn’t about scoring a point back at Red Bull over things that had happened over the years?
MW: No. I think I helped the team today. They know they’ve got to make some decisions in the future. Dietrich (Mateschitz) 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 with where I’ve been at. He’s certainly encouraged me not to rush my decision when I approached him earlier in the season. I think 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.
Q: (Jens Wolters – ARD Radio) Mark, do you actually care about the next guy who succeeds you in your position at Red Bull and maybe what should he bring into the team?
MW: I’ll watch with interest, mate. Yeah.
Q: (Rosie Baillie – F1Plus.com) You’ve spent many years in Formula One, Mark, what will you miss most about Formula One when you leave?
MW: Probably being with some of these guys to be honest. We all strive to get to the pinnacle, and I’ve been with JB, Lewis, Fernando, these guys for a long time, racing. We all know where we’ve come from. I’m very proud of where I’ve come from. I don’t forget the street that I grew up in in Australia. Formula One is seen as the pinnacle. Working with people like Adrian Newey, there’s things like that which of course won’t go un-noticed but as any sportsman or woman will know, you’re not 25 for ever so you’ve got to get the decision right and the timing right and stopping when you’re still performing well. I believe that’s absolutely correct for yourself and that’s part of the course that I will miss. The drug on the grid when the guys walk away from the car, that’s the best legal drug you can get. I’m ready to go racing so that’s brilliant. Like I say, you’ve got to be real with yourself and know there’s a day where you need to roll on to the next chapter and that’s what I’m very excited by. You can’t kid yourself and say it’s going to go on for ever. Yeah, and your performance is important so… yeah.
Q: (Michelle Foster – PlanetF1.com) Mark, will you be walking away with any regrets?
MW: No, no I don’t think so. At this level, you’re always open to some adversity here and there and challenges, that’s how this sport is, any top flight sport is going to be snapshots of different things which you could probably have done better here and there, but there’s no career which is like this. You’re going to have ups and downs and getting off the canvas is part of the rules, so I’ve been very fortunate to have some very very special memories for sure. How long is a piece of string? You could have more in terms of championships or whatever, but 2010 was a very very big battle with lots of quality drivers and it went to the last race so of course I remember that, I led the championship at the wrong race but it was… I’m looking back with very fond memories and I’ve still got races to go obviously this year so still looking to add to those great memories and helping Red Bull still achieve very very good results.
Good luck Mark Webber @AussieGrit in the next chapter of his life in 2014 Sports Car racing. I'll miss him and his direct honesty in F1
— Martin Brundle (@MBrundleF1) June 27, 2013
— Peter Windsor (@PeterDWindsor) June 27, 2013
@AussieGrit will be missed by f1. A driver not afraid to speak his mind, often on topics others would shy away from. Top man
— Tom Cary (@tomcary_tel) June 27, 2013
Good to hear Mark Webber has as rumoured decided to head to Le Mans with Porsche. The time had come and there's a queue of talent waiting ..
— Tiff Needell (@tiff_tv) June 27, 2013
— Craig Baird (@cbairdo) June 28, 2013
I wonder if @AussieGrit 's contract with Porsche has a "No fucking Multi 21s" clause stipulated in it?
— Steve Pizzati (@StevePizzati) June 27, 2013
Happy boy! http://t.co/P86ukL5wOi
— Mark Webber (@AussieGrit) June 27, 2013
From the interwebs
Webber: best of the nearly-men (Autosport subscription required)
From his team
MILTON KEYNES, UK – Following Mark Webber’s decision to retire from Formula One racing at the end of the year, Infiniti Red Bull Racing would like to thank him for the extensive contribution he has made to the team during the seven seasons he has driven for us.
During that time, the Australian has achieved nine wins*, 35 podiums (36 in total during his F1 career) and 11 pole positions. Mark’s dedication and success has also been a major factor in the team achieving three Constructors’ World Championships (2010, 2011 and 2012).
Christian Horner: “I am sure Mark thought long and hard before making what has no doubt been a very difficult decision. His achievements in Formula One are extensive and I am sure he will continue to push hard and build on that record until the end of the season. We support Mark’s decision. He has been an excellent addition to the team since joining us in 2007 and we wish him all the best in the next stage of his career.”
The decision on who will replace Webber will not be made until later in the season.