Formula 1 Porsche Red Bull Racing WEC

Reaction to Mark Webber’s Porsche move

Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Jenson Button

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.

It’s interesting to note that Mark said his mind has been made up for some time, which adds more weight to the early rumours which first emerged in June last year and again in April this year.

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.

Formula 1 Motorsports Porsche Red Bull Racing WEC

OFFICIAL: Webber to race for Porsche in 2014

Mark Webber, 2014 factory Porsche driver

Mark Webber: factory Porsche driver. It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think.

Sure, it’s not the most surprising news—over a year since it was first mentioned—but it’s now official that Mark Webber has been signed to drive for Porsche in the World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, from 2014 on a multi-year deal.

Whether multi-year translates to the five-year deal mentioned in April, or a more circumspect two–three year deal is not certain at this stage.

Mark has been a Porsche enthusiast for many years and his expertise and setup skills developed in Formula 1 should be a great boost to Porsche as it prepares for its 2014 LMP1 program.

“It’s an honour for me to join Porsche at its return to the top category in Le Mans and in the sports car World Endurance Championship and be part of the team,” Mark said. “Porsche has written racing history as a manufacturer and stands for outstanding technology and performance at the highest level.

“I’m very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula 1. Porsche will undoubtedly set itself very high goals. I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world.”

Porsche will run a minimum of two cars for the WEC series, with three likely for Le Mans. Other drivers confirmed for Porsche are Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, and Neel Jani.

Now that Mark’s F1 future is known the race will be on to see who replaces him at Red Bull Racing. Will it be Kimi Raikkonen or one of the Toro Rosso drivers, Daniel Ricciardo or Jean-Eric Vergne?

Motorsports Porsche

An early look at the 2014 Porsche LMP1

2014 Porsche LMP1 testing at Weissach

On the day Sebastian Vettel extended his deal with the Red Bull F1 team it is quite fitting that the first official photos of Mark Webber’s new car have been published by Porsche today.

Porsche works driver Timo Bernhard was at the wheel for the first test session in the 2014 Porsche LMP1, which took place at the company’s Weissach test facility. Although the timing of the run, so close to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is coincidental Porsche says.

“We are well on schedule,” says Fritz Enzinger, who heads up the LMP1 program for Porsche. “Our newly formed team has worked with utmost concentration on getting this highly complex vehicle on the track as soon as possible. This allows us a few additional weeks for more testing and further development. From 2014, the regulations are primarily based on efficiency. This makes the competition amongst engineers more interesting and presents us with completely new challenges.”

Highlighting its commitment to the chase for outright success at Le Mans and in the World Endurance Championship, Porsche says it has assembled a team of 200 employees to help achieve its goals.

“I’m very proud that I was the one to take our baby through its first paces today,” said Bernhard. “Already now the car feels great. I look forward to testing the vehicle in the coming weeks and months with my friend and colleague Romain Dumas.”

Motorsports Toyota

Toyota TS030 Hybrid LMP1 racecar revealed

Toyota TS030 Hybrid LMP1

After last week’s brief twitter preview, Toyota Motorsport has officially revealed its new LMP1 racer, which is heading for Le Mans later this year. It’s called the Toyota TS030 Hybrid and it runs a conventional 3.4 litre V8 petrol engine. Final spec for the hybrid components will be finalised after more testing has taken place, but the plan at this stage is to run two electric motors, one at each axle.

The TS030 has already completed a few hundred kilometres of testing at Paul Ricard, as these photos suggest. For now Toyota has only committed the TS030 to racing in the Six hours of Spa (5 May) and Le Mans 24 hour race (16–17 June). Participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship has not been confirmed, but is clearly on the team’s radar.

Toyota will run two cars at Spa and Le Mans, but only three drivers have been announced to date. Former F1 driver Alexander Wurz will be joined by Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima.

While they would clearly like to win Le Mans, Yoshiaki Kinoshita, Team President, has set achieveable goals: “Of course we would love to win Le Mans; that is the dream for all competitors in this race. But we are realistic and we know we need to develop and to learn in order to compete with some very strong competition. Our target this year is to show the performance level of our car and particularly the THS-R powertrain. Hybrid is a core technology of Toyota so it is important to demonstrate this in a motorsport arena and we want to prove it can bring a performance advantage, both in terms of lap time and fuel efficiency.”

Speaking after his first drive of the TS030 Alexander Wurz said: “It was cool to drive the TS030 HYBRID car for the first time. Just leaving the garage on the electric power is very futuristic, then when you let the clutch go and the internal combustion engine kicks in it is like an old friend has returned! When we put on the slick tyre I could feel the car generates a very good amount of grip so I think we have a good base and I think we can turn this into a really fast car.”

Aston Martin Random wallpapers

Random wallpaper: Aston Martin DBR1

Aston Martin DBR1

Here at AUSmotive we’re pretty chuffed with the news that Aston Martin Racing is chasing outright success at this year’s Le Mans 24 hour race. Not so much because we like Astons, of course we do, but we also appreciate beautifully crafted machines. The inspiration for Aston Martin’s 2009 assault, the DBR1, certainly fits that criteria.

One of the most stunning racing cars of its era it also proved its credentials by powering Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori to victory in the 1959 Le Mans 24 hour race.

You can read more about the DBR1 at Wikipedia, while enjoying a couple of press gallery images (click each image to load 2000 x 1320px super image). Also included after the jump is a brief YouTube clip showing Stirling Moss behind the wheel of a DBR1 and discussing his memories of the car.

Aston Martin Motorsports

Aston Martin Racing chase history at Le Mans

Aston Martin LMP1

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Aston Martin’s sole Le Mans 24 hour race victory. To honour the feats of Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori the British company are chasing outright success with this stunning LMP1 racer. Racing cars with iconic Gulf livery always look great, but this creation from Aston Martin takes the look to a whole new level. It’s just brilliant!

Trouble is, there’s a lot more to racing than simply looking the part. Aston is the current Le Mans holder of the GT1 class, but to show how serious they are with their outright assault they will not be running any GT1 cars in 2009. It’s all or nothing in the outright category.

The LMP1 will use the proven V12 engine from the class winning DBR9 GT1 cars. The chassis is based on the 2008 Charouz Racing System Lola.

The 2009 Le Mans 24 hour race will take place over the weekend of 13–14 June.

Full press statement after the jump.