Mark Webber has announced that he will retire from professional motor racing when the current season of the FIA World Endurance Championship reaches its conclusion in a few weeks’ time.
The Vale-based Australian has enjoyed a long and successful motor racing career, and he told the media in Japan attending Sunday’s WEC race in Fuji that he will step down from his position within the Porsche LMP1 team at the end of the 2016 season.
Webber will remain with the German marque as a brand ambassador, and it is believed he will carry out further duties within the television industry.
He said: “I had pretty much made up my mind at the start of the season that this could be my last year of racing. By the time we reached the Spa-Francorchamps race in May I had decided, and the announcement has now been made public.
“I have had a great career and have loved every minute of it. But my big accident in Brazil in 2014 took me a long time to recover from, and then you look at life differently and you have to question at times your desire and reason to be in the car.
“When you reach a point that you are not enjoying every moment, then that is the time to stop, and I have no regrets.”
Webber arrived in Britain for the 1996 season, winning the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch that year. From Formula Ford, Webber moved to Formula 3 with Alan Docking Racing before progressing to the Le Mans 24-Hours in 1998 and 1999 as part of the Mercedes-Benz factory team.
A large accident when his car flipped saw Webber leave the world of GT1 racing and head back to single-seaters, where a career in F3000 was carved before a coveted move to F1 was sealed.
Joining the Minardi team for the 2002 season, Webber went on to drive for Jaguar, Williams and Red Bull in the sport’s top category, making 215 starts and scoring nine victories - two of them in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
For the 2014 season Webber became a high-profile signing for Porsche and the marque’s return to international sportscar competition, leading the challenge in the 919-Hybrid car.
Near victory at Le Mans and a season-ending accident in Brazil were Webber’s highs and lows, before 2015 delivered a maiden world championship title with Porsche and team-mates Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard.
After a slow start to the 2016 WEC season, the Aston Clinton resident and the crew of the number 1 Porsche 919-Hybrid are very much in contention for world championship glory once again, with two races of the season remaining in Shanghai and Bahrain.
Although victory at Le Mans has eluded Webber, there are no regrets.
He added: “I have loved racing at Le Mans, and maybe my early running there with Mercedes dented my desire.
“However, returning with Porsche has been an amazing experience and although I have not win the famous race, I have given it a great go and am happy to have nearly won it.
“I am looking forward to the next chapter of my life, although I won’t be writing another book!
“There is lots to look forward to, but before all of that, I have a job to do with Porsche as we complete the FIA World Endurance Championship season. Our aim is to win the Manufacturers’ Championship, and also secure the Drivers’ title as well.
“When that is over, I can then step back and carry on with life.”