Christian Horner insists he only found out that Mark Webber
was to leave Red Bull
Racing shortly before news broke that the Australian had elected to quit F1.
Although the initial speculation linking Webber with a move to Porsche's new sportscar programme has been on-going for some time, official confirmation
only arrived on Thursday morning when Porsche named the 36-year-old as the fourth driver for its LMP1 programme.
Red Bull issued a statement of its own later in the day wishing Webber all the best
in his new drive, with Horner then revealing that he hadn't known the deal was done until shortly before the news broke.
"I had a call from Mark at about 9 o'clock and I spoke to him and he said that he'd reached this decision," Horner was quoted by ESPNF1
. "An hour's notice is a bit short, but a decision for a driver to retire can only come from him and Mark is quite a private person and he's reached this decision and communicated it today.
"For us it makes very little difference, but to call time on a career that's lasted over ten years is a big decision for any driver. He's removed himself from speculation, he's made his intentions clear and he's removed himself as a candidate [for a Red Bull
drive] by announcing his new contract with Porsche.
"It's a difficult decision to know when is the right time to stop and we only have to respect that that is his decision and wish him the best of luck for the future."
Horner added that he expected workers at Red Bull's factory in Milton Keynes would be disappointed to have only discovered news of Webber's move through the media rather than from the Australian himself.
"He's obviously decided to take things into his own hands and I think the guys in the factory are probably a bit more disappointed that they read it on the internet than heard something direct,” Horner said. “That's the way things are sometimes.
“Mark has done a great job for the team but decided early on and I think that's a positive thing for the team because he's counted himself out as far as next year's concerned.
"It's a fitting time with the regulation changes that I know he is not a huge fan of next year. That leaves us with the prospect of making sure we get the right replacement driver alongside Sebastian for 2014."