Red Bull F1 Driver Mark Webber Linked With Le Mans Return With Porsche (VIDEO)

Rumour is rife in Formula 1 and the sport would be much the poorer without it but the latest speculation surrounding Red Bull driver Mark Webber and his possible defection to sportscars may well be worth listening to.

Soon after the chequered flag was waved at the Chinese Grand Prix, in which Webber retired and then received a grid penalty for next week's race in Bahrain, Twitter was abuzz with the news that the Australian had signed a five-year deal with Porsche to return to sportscars in 2014.

Mark Webber's F1 future has come into question following the Malaysian Grand Prix

Even specialist UK motorsport newspaper, Motorsport News got in on the act:

Soon followed by a teasing message from the official Le Mans twitter feed:

Webber has been under intense scrutiny for three weeks since he was robbed of victory in Malaysia by his team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who ignored Red Bull orders in the closing stages of the grand prix to force his way past and take the win.

Vettel soon apologised to Webber and to the Red Bull team but this weekend he appears to have changed his tune and said that he would do the same again. The incident has soured an already difficult relationship between the two drivers, leading to much speculation about Webber's future. Indeed, he said after the Malaysian GP that he would be thinking hard about what he did next.

If Webber does jump ship, he would be joining a number of ex-F1 drivers in the World Endurance Championship, including Le Mans winners Allan McNish and Alex Wurz, as well as Nick Heidfeld, Anthony Davidson and Giancarlo Fisichella.

Of course, the timing of the rumour may just be coincidental but the 2013 FIA WEC has just started with the 6 Hours of Silverstone also running on Sunday. This is the second year of the championship dominated by Audi and Toyota and which Porsche will be joining next year.

When asked about the Webber rumours, sportscar legend Derek Bell, a four-time Le Mans winner with Porsche in the 1970s and 1980s who was at Silverstone as a guest of Audi, told HuffPost: "I hear he has gone."

Webber's previous excursion into sportscars was brief. After finishing as runner-up in the FIA GT Championship in 1998, he was lucky to survive an almighty crash at Le Mans the following year when his Mercedes flipped along the Mulsanne Straight during practice. Webber's team-mate Peter Dumbreck suffered a similar fate in the race itself and Mercedes quit sportscars immediately.

Watch Webber's lucky 1999 Le Mans escape below.

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