|© Vladimir Rys/Getty Images/Red Bull Racing
Mark Webber could be heading back to endurance racing next year with Porsche consequently ending his Formula 1 career, according to the latest rumours circulating in the paddock.
Believed to have signed a five-year deal with the German manufacturer starting 2014, Webber could be racing in the World Endurance Championship along with several other former F1 drivers.
Webber, who will be 37 in August, has previously competed in endurance racing with Mercedes in the late 90s.
Porsche is yet to finalise its line-up for its two cars which will have three drivers each but refuted the claim that Webber will be joining the team, although it did confirm that it will “use some of our own drivers and add some external drivers”.
"There is a test plan, and for sure Mark Webber is not part of them," said Wolfgang Hatz, a member of the Porsche AG board of management, who knows the Australian F1 driver.
“Yes, we can have perhaps some Formula 1 drivers in the future, but it is not necessary," he added.
Webber’s contract with Red Bull expires at the end of the season - with Kimi Raikkonen named as a candidate to replace him next season - which means the Australian would not be available for testing for Porsche this year.
It is, however, believed that Webber hasn’t signed for sportscar racing yet but has made up his mind after talking to Porsche with a likely verbal agreement or a pre-contract in place, particularly after the nightmarish Chinese Grand Prix weekend.
Conspiracy theories brewed that Red Bull had deliberately ruined Webber’s weekend, in the wake of the team orders incident, but team principal Christian Horner, angered by the claims, rubbished any such allegations.