Mark Webber: Sebastian Vettel row not reason for F1 exit

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Time right to leave F1 - Webber

Red Bull driver Mark Webber says his decision to leave Formula 1 at the end of the season had nothing to do with the Malaysia team orders controversy.

But Webber said joining Porsche in sports cars had always been his "personal plan and I've stuck to it".

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said Webber had not informed him until just before the announcement.

But Webber made it clear he had kept Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz, with whom he has always done his contracts directly, in the loop throughout.

"Dietrich has been completely up to speed with my thinking in the last six to eight months," Webber said, "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 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."

Webber flew to Salzburg to inform Mateschitz of his decision in person on Wednesday before Porsche, for whom Webber will drive in sportscar racing next year, issued its media release.

BBC Sport broke the news a few minutes before Porsche made their announcement.

Horner complained that the notice Webber had given him was "a bit short".

"I had a call from Mark this morning at about nine o'clock, and that was the first I knew about it. I spoke with him and he said he had reached his decision," he said on Thursday.

"He obviously decided to take things into his own hands.

"I think the guys in the factory are a bit more disappointed that they read it on the internet than heard something direct, but that is the way these things are sometimes."

Webber said in a news conference at the British Grand Prix on Thursday that he would miss the competition of the best drivers.

"We all strive to get to the pinnacle and I've been with JB (Jenson Button), Lewis (Hamilton), Fernando (Alonso), these guys for a long time, racing."

Webber added in an interview published on his website:external-link "I realise F1 is seen as the absolute pinnacle of motorsport and I've worked with some incredible people, in particular (Red Bull chief technical officer) Adrian Newey.

"I've driven in some of the toughest and most challenging conditions and circuits, and against some incredible drivers, which I'll continue to do until the end of the year.

Webber flips out of 2010 European GP

"Will I miss some of this? Yes, of course, but time doesn't stand still for anyone and it's time to move on to my next challenge."

Webber will compete in the World Endurance Championship, the centrepiece of which is the famous Le Mans 24 Hours race.

He has previously raced at Le Mans, taking pole position in 1998 in a car shared with Germans Klaus Ludwig and Bernd Schneider, but retired after just 19 laps.

The following year, he suffered two accidents in which his Mercedes took off as a result of a design flaw, after which he said he would not return to Le Mans again.

But he admits he has since reconsidered his view, and also alluded to the death of Danish driver Allan Simonsen in the race last weekend.

"I accept that motor racing is dangerous but Le Mans is one of the most famous circuits in the world and to be honest, I still see it as unfinished business and I want to do well there," Webber said.

"Le Mans can be cruel as we've just seen, but it's incredibly rewarding and that's part of the allure."

He said he had options to stay in F1 but "since F1 as a category wasn't on my radar for 2014, they weren't a consideration for me".

Webber, who has raced for Red Bull in F1 since 2007, said he would remain "tightly inside the Red Bull family".

Mateschitz said Webber would continue to be backed by Red Bull, including wearing its logos on his helmet into next year.