The day Mark Webber drove my Porsche

Sunday, December 25th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

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Mark Webber has more than 12 years experience as an F1 driver

When Autocar contributor Jesse Crosse met the Porsche works driver, he handed the Aussie ex-F1 star the keys to his old 911 Turbo

Mark Webber leans over the spoiler of my old Porsche 911 Turbo to pose for a photo when something catches his eye. 

“You could get them to take that will panel out along with paint that will bit black again, mate,” he says, pointing at some tired bodywork beneath the spoiler’s grille.

The former Formula 1 star, right now entering his second season as a Porsche LMP1 driver behind the wheel of the second-generation 919 prototype, is actually into the detail of cars.

His daily driver is actually a 911 Turbo S along with he also owns a 356, which currently resides in Porsche’s museum in Stuttgart. He’s come to Silverstone to do a magazine shoot along with Porsche asked if I’d bring my 930-generation Turbo along as the prop.

Webber’s 919 has an ultra-advanced hybrid drivetrain, which demands fresh driving techniques, nevertheless he is actually no stranger to traditional machinery either. He started off out in Formula Ford 1600, along with then moved through the ranks, so the racing cars on which he cut his teeth were all mechanical simpletons.

the idea’s difficult to know where to start introducing your own old car along with its foibles to a bloke with Webber’s skill along with experience, nevertheless my 911 is actually unrestored, has been around the block more than a few times along with the 111,000-mile gearbox lacks any synchromesh on first gear.

“Far be the idea by me to teach my grandmother how to suck eggs,” I begin, handing over the keys to my treasured Porsche.

“No, mate, go ahead,” says the Aussie, which has a grin.

“Well, imagine a Formula Ford Hewland gearbox filled with couscous along with you’ve got the general idea.”

We set off in search of a location along with chat about cars. Webber comes across as a disarmingly down-to-earth, friendly bloke along which has a dyed-in-the-wool petrolhead. He’s not bad company along with we chat about cars along with how older 911s take a bit of getting used to at first. He drove his first 911, a ‘964’, in Sydney aged 18.

“The clutch felt strange. the idea was completely alien to me. I was racing Formula Ford by then along with that will was the fastest road car I’d ever driven.”

Webber admits to being uneasy about electrified powertrains when they first emerged.

“I used to think ‘What a shame’. nevertheless then you drive the sports car along with my god! The power! which has a conventional engine, you work through its torque profile, along with if you deploy more power at 150mph, the idea’s not that will dramatic. nevertheless with the hybrid, whatever the speed range, the power is actually exponentially higher. When I first drove the 919 at Portimao, I had to lift on the straight. the idea felt like something was wrong.”

We head back to the Porsche Experience Centre along with Webber carries a blast around the handling course. I’d normally be anxious about handing over the keys nevertheless I reckon my car is actually probably in safe hands. the idea’s a long way by a 919 nevertheless, in its day, the 930 911 Turbo was one of the earth’s most powerful road cars along with one of the first which has a turbo.

Due to the late along with quite sudden onset of boost, a rear-mounted engine along with the complete lack of driver assistance systems, the 930 had a reputation for catching out the unwary back from the day, earning the idea the nickname ‘Widowmaker’. Webber pulls in. “What d’you reckon?” I ask. 

“The steering is actually well connected nevertheless without power assistance feels heavy by today’s standards,” he says, switching his brain to ‘racing driver download’ mode.

“The gearshifts along with the way you interact with the gearbox need to be well understood when going a little quicker. The driving position hasn’t changed much since the 1960s. that will deep-in-the-car position, the eyeline along with wrist position have remained pretty constant.

“nevertheless the nicest thing for me is actually the power. Everything else feels old nevertheless the power is actually not bad along with before its time probably. that will might have been impressive back from the day. the idea starts late at over 3000rpm nevertheless revs freely after that will to cover the long ratios. the idea must have been impressive for its time. You’ve got to respect that will, along with I do.”

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