Mark Webber stunned his Red Bull team yesterday when he told them he was quitting Formula One at the end of the season, just a few minutes before the official announcement was made by his new employers, Porsche.
Webber brought down the curtain on his 12-year F1 career just as Red Bull were about to enter into negotiations over a new one-year contract.
Those negotiations might have come to nothing, because many people around F1 had come to the conclusion that Webber's days at Red Bull were numbered after a season in which his already strained relationship with his team-mate, Sebastian Vettel, had deteriorated further.
The all-time low came at Malaysia in March, when Vettel ignored team orders and went past Webber when the Australian was on the threshold of victory. But as recently as Monday Christian Horner, the Red Bull team principal, had said he was ready to sit down with Webber and talk about a new deal.
Webber (36) denied that he had snubbed the Milton Keynes-based team but by admitting that he had made his mind up a long time ago and deciding not to let his employers in on his thoughts, he might consider that he has had the last laugh.
"An hour's notice is a bit short," Horner said last night. After consulting his mobile phone he confirmed that in fact it was shorter than that, and a matter of only a few minutes.
Horner added: “The guys in the factory will be disappointed that they read it on the internet and weren’t told directly. Mark decided to take matters into his own hands. We wish him all the best in his new career with Porsche. He has got an important job to do over the next 12 races and help defend the constructors’ title.
“He has achieved all but one of his podiums with Red Bull and we took something of a risk when we signed him. But he has played an important part in our winning three constructors titles.”
It was fitting, in a sense, that Webber announced his decision in the run-up to the Silverstone Grand Prix. He lives nearby and has won this race in two of the past three years.