Exclusive: Mark Webber returns to Le Mans, Part 1

Join Mark Webber on the road to the 24hr du Mans in our new video series on Mondays on RedBull.com.
© Dutch Photo Agency/Red Bull Content Pool
By Matt Youson

Last week Mark Webber gave us an exclusive insight into how he’s helping to test and develop the Porsche 919 hybrid – one of the most technically sophisticated sports cars ever to take to the track.

He’s realistic about his chances this year but firmly believes he one day will join Maurice Trintignant, Graham Hill, Bruce McLaren and Jochen Rindt as winners of both the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans

This week he reveals some of the perks of WEC – such as a gleaming new Porsche Turbo S in the garage… 

We’ve always known you’re a Porsche fanboy. Have they given you any new toys or do you still drive the ones you already have in the garage?
I’m a very lucky guy! I’ve taken delivery of a Turbo S and it’s just a great, great 911. It’s a phenomenal road car, no matter what you’re doing: country roads, motorway driving. It’s wonderful. Understated but very high-performance. Obviously I’ve still got the ones I bought as a customer too…

How’s the training routine? Is the regime a little less intense?
Ah, well, old habits die hard. I’m still pretty disciplined with my training. I don’t have any worries about my physical condition for driving in this category – it’s more mental training that’s important.

Do you at least get to eat proper meals?
Well… yeessss – but I still want to stay light. It’s in my best interests. I was very, very light for the last six years of my Formula One career – everyone said I looked unwell – but that’s just how it had to be in F1 if I wanted to stay competitive. I was still 9kg overweight, but I couldn’t lose any more.

Has the vibe of endurance racing changed since you last did it?
It’s me that’s changed. When I was last here I was young and under a lot of pressure to perform and prove myself. Now I’m here to contribute to taking the team forward and enjoy my driving. Working with the other drivers is good. It’s a different dynamic for me now – but I still need get those competitive juices flowing by going out there and performing.

Big question: do you miss F1? With the Monaco Grand Prix next Sunday, will you miss not being on the grid?
There’s some tracks I’ll miss driving for the rest of my life and Monaco I always, always enjoyed – but you can’t do it forever. I think I got the timing absolutely perfect. Sportscars is on a lift at the moment and F1, in my opinion, is not quite what it was. It’s still the pinnacle of course but I’ve had that career and enjoyed my time. I had a good go at it, worked with some great people. Yes, sometimes I miss driving the car – but not for long. I have no regrets at all.

Will we see you around the F1 paddock this year?
I might be at a few events as Mitch Evans is racing in GP2 this year and I’m working with him, so I’ll go along to watch. That will be my main focus outside of my own driving. We’re always in dialogue and working out how we can improve him as a driver. There’s plenty of experience you can pass along, from the little tricks of each circuit to the off-track stuff that a driver has to learn.

With all of that do you find time to get out and enjoy yourself?
Oh, I’m not as busy as I was and I’ve got a few other things on the radar. In addition to Porsche I’m still doing some fun things with Red Bull and also getting in a little more travel of my own – which is not the same thing as travelling from race to race. Yeah, I think I’ve got a pretty good balance.

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