FIA World Endurance Champion and two-time Monaco Grand Prix winner Mark Webber made the decision to call time on his distinguished racing career in 2016. At only 40 years old and still winning races in the top flight of motorsport, the down-to-earth Australian explained that he felt the timing was right for him and he always hoped to retire on his own terms.
Perhaps best known for his twelve-year Formula One career, Mark hung up his F1 boots at the end of 2013 having notched up 215 races, nine victories - most notably becoming a double winner of both the prestigious Monaco and British Grands Prix – and accumulating an impressive tally of 42 podium finishes, 13 pole positions and 19 fastest laps. The Aussie finished third in the World Drivers’ Championship three times, including in his final year, lending credence to the fact it was always his wish to ‘step away while I’m still at the top of my game’.
Not quite ready to give up competitive racing entirely at this point, Mark began an exciting new chapter in his illustrious career when he returned to sports cars at the beginning of 2014 following a fifteen-year hiatus. Manufacturing giant Porsche were returning after a similarly long break and Mark joined teammates Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley in their 919 Hybrid LMP1 car for three very successful seasons in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Together the trio amassed fourteen podiums (eight of them wins), were runner’s up in the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hour race in an historic Porsche 1-2 finish and were crowned World Drivers’ Champions the same year. In 2017 Mark extended his relationship with Porsche, stepping out of the cockpit and into an ambassadorial role with the leading marque.
Off the track, the less time-consuming environment of the WEC happily enabled Mark to pursue more of his adventure-based goals and in 2014 he took on the legendary Leadville Trail 100 MTB – a one hundred mile mountain bike race across the high-altitude, extreme terrain of the Colorado Rockies, starting at 10,152 feet and climbing to 12,424 feet. Mark finished the race well within the golden nine-hour window and ever the competitor, returned the following year with the aim of ‘shaving off a few seconds’ and successfully beat his time. Mark intends to compete for a third time in 2018.
Always keen on outdoor pursuits and wanting to give back to his home country, Mark launched the Mark Webber Tasmania Challenge in the F1 off-season of 2003. Currently taking a sabbatical, the seventh cycle of the gruelling charitable adventure race took place in December 2013 and to date the event has raised over $1.5 million AUD for charities in Australia. Mark explains it was the Challenge events, along with his love of the great outdoors, that kindled the idea for Aussie Grit Apparel, a new off-road running and cycling sports apparel brand that Mark is the architect behind - the first range launched late 2017.
Mark has also had the opportunity to delve into the world of punditry. The knowledgeable and quick-witted Aussie has teamed up with Channel Ten in Australia for their Australian Grand Prix coverage since 2014 and is about to embark on a third year as part of Channel 4’s F1 commentary team for their UK terrestrial broadcast.
In the 2017 Australia Day Honours list, Mark received his country’s highest national honour – becoming an Officer of the Order of Australia – for ‘distinguished service to motor sport as a competitor and ambassador, and to the community through fundraising and patronage of a range of medical and youth support organisations.’