Mark Webber will leave champions Red Bull and F1 at the end of the season to join Porsche’s new Le Mans sportscar programme, the Australian driver announced on Thursday."I'm very much looking forward to this new challenge after my time in Formula One. I can hardly wait to pilot one of the fastest sports cars in the world," he said on his website.
Porsche said he had signed a multi-year contract. Red Bull said a decision on his replacement would not be made until later in the season.
In a separate statement, Red Bull thanked Webber for his extensive contribution in his seven years with the team and their three successive constructors’ crowns.
"I am sure Mark thought long and hard before making what has no doubt been a very difficult decision,” said principal Christian Horner, who co-owns a GP3 team with Webber and is close to the Australian.
“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,” added the Briton.
“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 stages of his career.”
BACK TO THE START
Webber has twice raced at Le Mans, with not entirely fond memories. He will also compete in World Endurance Championship.
“I'm very pleased to have secured Mark Webber for our LMP1 project as one of the best and most successful Formula 1 pilots of our time," Porsche board member for research and development Wolfgang Hatz said.
"Mark is without doubt one of the world's best race drivers, he has experience at the Le Mans 24 hour race and on top of that he's been a Porsche enthusiast for many years."