Mark Webber Defines the Differences Between F1 and WEC

In 2014, Mark Webber made the switch from Red Bull Racing and Formula One to Porsche and the World Endurance Championship. The German manufacturer were looking to get up to speed quickly in the Championship after a fourteen-year absence.

In the interview below, Mark Webber speaks exclusively to Mobil 1 about Porsche’s WEC campaign.

 

The Aussie won the 2015 WEC for Porsche alongside Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley and the trio are racing together again this season. The season started with difficulty but they’ve hit a very rich vein of form with three wins on the trot. They currently sit 4th but will be hoping to claim their fourth win on the bounce at the 6 Hours of Fuji race later this month.

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Webber highlights the stark differences regarding driver teamwork in the WEC and F1. In his article for Mobil 1, he wrote,

“One of the big differences between the two championships for a driver is the fact that Formula One is more of an individual approach.

In WEC, you’re obviously sharing your car with your teammates, so it has a little bit more of Davis Cup feel to it. There’s a lot of camaraderie between the drivers, and you really have to work together to get the most out of the car, which is not the case in Formula One. The nature of F1 as a sport is very individual, even though you have a lot of engineers and resources to get the most out of the car.”

– Mark Webber

01 BERNHARD Timo (deu) HARTLEY Brendon (nzl) WEBBER Mark (aus) Porsche 919 hybrid lmp1 team Porsche action pitstop during the 2016 FIA WEC World Endurance Championship, 6 Hours of Circuit des Ameriques from September 15 to 17 2016 at Austin, USA circuit - Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI
01 BERNHARD Timo (deu) HARTLEY Brendon (nzl) WEBBER Mark (aus) Porsche 919 hybrid lmp1 team Porsche action pitstop during the 2016 FIA WEC World Endurance Championship, 6 Hours of Circuit des Ameriques from September 15 to 17 2016 at Austin, USA circuit – Photo Florent Gooden / DPPI

Another difference that Webber has had to acclimatize too is a large amount of traffic. Racing in the LMP1 class, the Porsche 919 Hybrid is much more powerful than cars in the lower classes of LMP2, LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am. The 7-times WEC race winner said,

“During the race itself, the key difference is traffic, which is something you don’t really have to deal with in Formula One.

In WEC, naturally, we have a lot of different categories racing within the same race, so that means a lot of different cars to deal with on track. Given that we’re in the fastest car and we have to lap the GTs, as well as some of the amateur drivers, that’s a huge difference that you don’t see in F1.”

– Mark Webber

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 24: Mark Webber of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing celebrates on his way to parc ferme after finishing second in his final F1 race following the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 24, 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – NOVEMBER 24: Mark Webber of Australia and Infiniti Red Bull Racing celebrates on his way to parc ferme after finishing second in his final F1 race following the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 24, 2013 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Traffic is indeed rarer in F1, but Webber has still had the odd incident with backmarkers over the years…

Respect between drivers is apparent in both categories but again, Webber cites the additional danger of the WEC warranting more caution.

“From a driver’s perspective, I can talk on behalf of the LMP1 drivers when I say there’s an immense amount of respect between us, probably because it’s actually more dangerous than F1, particularly at Le Mans. The LMP1 drivers are aware of that, so there has to be a bit more respect in the battles because we know there can be some consequences at those speeds.

In Formula One, there is a clear respect amongst the drivers who have been racing each other for a long time but, sometimes, we’ve seen crashes because that intensity has become a bit too high.”

– Mark Webber

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The Aussie’s F1 career started in 2002 with an emphatic 5th for Minardi in Australia and ended in 2013 with a 2nd place for Red Bull Racing in Brazil. His feedback as a driver over his lengthy stint at Red Bull would have aided the evolution of the car without question and Webber remains a familiar face around the paddock – between WEC races of course.

He highlights an issue that Formula One is currently trying to digest, one that regards fan interaction.

“In WEC, you have to say the fans get great access. They are able to get close to us and literally spend time with us, which is great. We can sign autographs and take photographs with them. You wouldn’t see that in F1.

At this stage in my career, I enjoy being where I am. But I also wanted my Formula One career at the point that I did. I’ve an immense amount of respect for both categories.”

– Mark Webber

SPA, BELGIUM - AUGUST 28: Mark Webber drinks champagne from the boot of Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing on the podium during the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 28, 2016 in Spa, Belgium (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
SPA, BELGIUM – AUGUST 28: Mark Webber drinks champagne from the boot of Daniel Ricciardo of Australia and Red Bull Racing on the podium during the Formula One Grand Prix of Belgium at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on August 28, 2016 in Spa, Belgium (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

A team player who sounds like he hasn’t lost his hunger for racing post-F1. Definitely one to watch in this year’s World Endurance Championship.

LE MANS, FRANCE - JUNE 15: Mark Webber of Australia and Porsche 919 Hybrid Team is seen ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race at Circuit de la Sarthe on June 15, 2014 in Le Mans, France. (Photo by Vladimir Rys Photography via Getty Images)
LE MANS, FRANCE – JUNE 15: Mark Webber of Australia and Porsche 919 Hybrid Team is seen ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race at Circuit de la Sarthe on June 15, 2014 in Le Mans, France. (Photo by Vladimir Rys Photography via Getty Images)