Mark Webber may not be piloting Formula One cars these days, or even Le Mans prototypes, but if you’re a potential Porsche buyer or one of the marque’s many repeat customers, that can only be a good thing given his involvement in new car development with the iconic German brand, including the new 911.
Speaking with him on the eve of the Los Angeles motor show at the global reveal of the new 911, you get the distinct impression he’s a no nonsense kind of guy that likes to push the development cars as hard as he pushed the race cars he once drove.
Webber is deeply involved in the development of Porsche’s first ever fully electric car, the Taycan, which will launch in 2019.
Despite this, hhe still managed several test drives of the next-generation 911, codenamed 992, but always with August Achleitner, vice president of 911 development, riding shotgun and absorbing the detailed dynamic feedback Webber had to offer.
The former Formula One driver notes there were no high-speed passes involved, rather, “it was all very dynamic stuff like driveability, systems, interface and wind noise, and everything in between".
During our chat, Webber said: “There were a few things that really stood out when I first got behind the wheel of the 992. Certainly the wider front track is of interest in terms of the response and just how balanced the car is.
“It’s very handy with quick changes of direction and braking on the twisty sections we test on and the new systems such as the Wet Mode is simply mind-blowing in the way it helps the driver in tricky conditions.
"The way the engineers have stepped the mapping with this system has to be seen to be believed. You can go between the mild and the wild and even turn it off if you want, but the job these guys have done with getting the slip angle right and distributing more yaw to the front is 919 territory. It really is."
Webber drove the Porsche 919 in the FIA's World Endurance Championship between 2014 and 2016. Porsche finished first in the manufacturers' championship in the 2015 and 2016 seasons.
Although his best finish at the Le Mans 24 Hours was second, but Webber's car took first place at the Nurburgring, Fuji Speedway and at several other tracks.