Red Bull driver Mark Webber says that his deal with Porsche was concluded some time ago.
Webber announced on Thursday that he will be leaving Formula 1 at the end of the season to drive for Porsche in the World Endurance Championship.
“[I'm] 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,” he said ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
“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.”
Webber also denied that the timing of the announcement was to get back at Red Bull.
“It was about Porsche and Mark Webber today.”
“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.”
Team principal Christian Horner revealed that he was only informed of Webber’s decision moments before the news became public.
“I think he has obviously decided to take things into his own hands. The guys in the factory are a bit more disappointed that they read it on the Internet rather than heard something direct. But that is the way these things are sometimes,” he said.
Webber’s team-mate Sebastian Vettel insists that he has enormous respect for the Australian.
“I think off track, a lot of it [differences] has been hyped more than it should have because there hasn’t been that much going on,” he said.
“I have enormous respect for him on the track as a driver.”