Yesterday at work, when I was writing a post in an internal community and started to type the last name of the addressed person, the system made a suggestion with a very famous name of of an ex-racing driver. For a second I caught myself thinking that one day Mark Webber will probably have a corporate email address and a department code, PAG for Porsche and ELR for their racing department (if I’m not mistaken).
Today Porsche announced that Mark will retire from racing at the end of the season. Crying smileys were quite literal, and I can now make a good use of the half full (or half empty) bottle of good German white wine. It’s an end of an era in racing, yes, but it makes me incredibly sad on a very personal level.
Actually, in a weird way I have Mark to thank for my current job. Back in 2014 I sent an application for an internship to a car company. I had finance as major in my business studies, and a car company was never going to be a natural addressee for me. I gave it a go an a couple of weeks later I found myself at an interview with their Strategy department. It went okay-ish, but the fact that I had no clue about the automotive industry was quite apparent, which the manager sort of highlighted and said that they needed someone with passion for the industry. I said something like “Well I won’t claim that I know every single model of your company, but congratulations on the podium in Saõ-Paulo this weekend, it was great to see A. on the podium in his last race.” Then the manager asked me, whether I believed it would make strategically sense for the brand to enter F1, and this question more or less saved my arse, since I knew the facts about the workings of FIA- FOM and the teams, some figures about Mercedes investments in the whole topic, and could build a nice argument, why it would be a rubbish idea. A week later they called me and said I had the placement. Half a year later they recommended me to another department. On October, 1st I celebrated my first year at the company, a week later I was at my first meeting with two members of the board.
The thing is, that race I mentioned was a pure horror. That first Porsche win in WEC has cost me more nerve cells than all the racing altogether. I remember crying till morning, and feeling terrified out of my mind. The 6h of Saõ-Paulo 2014 was one of the worst and the best races I have ever watched. Thank you, Mark for that wave from the stretcher, it got my heart going again.
I still remember Spa 2014, Mark’s second race for Porsche. I was so bloody happy to get Mark’s autograph. It was a black an white picture of Mark leaving, with his yellow-blue-Aussie-flag coloured helmet in his hand, now one of my best friends has the original and I have four more autographs on the pictures and a flag spread around my room.
I have seen Mark win, twice. I have spent hours watching his 919 Porsche in the garage with issues. I got a high-five from him after his win at the Nürburgring in 2016 and an air-kiss at Le Mans when it was raining like crazy and me and my friend were waving – well attempting to wave – 1×1,5 m flags at the scrutineering at Place de la Republique in Le Mans. Thank you, Mark, for that. It meant a lot.
Mark is an incredible character – inspiring, honest, strong. The racing world will miss him. I personally will miss him in racing, and will stay infinitely grateful for what he did – unknowingly – for me personally.
Thank you, Mark. Thank you so much.
The bottle of sweet wine from Rhein-Hessen is almost empty, and I am really in need of something to fill the emptiness in my heart left with Mark’s retirement from racing.