There is an old adage that implores "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em". In this case, I think Porsche may have been using "If you can't beat 'em, hire 'em", as that's exactly what they've done with Fred Mako.
The Frenchman was inducted to the Porsche Werks team for this year after spending the 2013 season with the Aston Martin Racing team, and managing some pretty good results. So well, in fact, that he scored a victory at Silverstone in the Blancpain Endurance Series, won the Austin, TX and Fuji, Japan rounds of the World Endurance Championship, as well as two other podiums in 2013. Rather than allow Aston Martin to have an arrow like that in their quiver, Porsche decided the expedient thing to do would be to have Mako on their side. Thus far, he's served quite well within the Porsche team, competing in the World Endurance Championship GTE Pro class in one of the factory run 911 RSR.
Like many European drivers, Makowiecki got his start in karting before moving on to try his hand at the open wheel development ladder. After a run in the French Formula 3B championship at 19, however, Frédéric shifted his focus to tin-tops. With 4 wins and 7 podiums between 2001 and 2003 in the French GT Championship, Mako moved to the French GT Cup in 2004 where he took the championship title. 2004 was also the year that he began running in the Porsche Carrera Cup France. With 20 wins and a number of additional podiums and pole positions, Fred certainly got a lot of experience in Porsche GT cars, even winning the 2010 championship title.
Over the last decade, Fred has got himself some seat time in a number of GT3, GT2, and GT1 cars, stepping behind the wheel of Chrysler's Viper GTS-Rs, Saleen S7-Rs, DBR-9s, Ford GTs, Ferrari's 458, and McLaren's MP4. Bouncing between FIA GT3, FIA GT2, FIA GT1, the Blancpain Endurance Series, the World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series, and most recently, the Japanese Super GT "GT500" class. If it resembles a street GT car, has four wheels and an closed top, chances are that Fred has driven one in anger. He's a talented driver, and regardless what it is, he can step behind the wheel and excel.
Porsche Motorsport Head, Hartmut Kristen -
Frédéric Makowiecki is one of the fastest and most experienced GT pilots. He has a great deal of experience on virtually all international race tracks and he knows precisely how to drive a Porsche 911 fast. I’m very much looking forward to working with him.
Frédéric Makowiecki -
It is great to work for any manufacturer, but Porsche is special for me because it is where I started my sportscar career. The opportunity to come here came very late, but it is a fantastic opportunity.
The 33-year-old was announced to the Porsche driver squad at last year's Night of Champions event at Porsche's facility in Weissach. Aston Martin did have an option to continue Makowiecki's contract for 2014, though the relationship between the British manufacturer and Mako was thought to have cooled over the course of the season. Frédéric would go no further than to admit that he and the team "failed to find a reference". He had also described the opportunity that had arisen with his Honda contract, but in the end, he chose not to continue with Honda because in order to advance within the team, it would have required relocation to Japan, which Mako determined was not in the cards.
After the Porsche GT squad lost Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb to the LMP1 WEC side of the paddock, Makowiecki got the call to become a Porsche factory driver. It has proven to be a good choice, as Mako teamed with Holzer and Lietz to take the first win of the season back at Silverstone in April, and then took a podium place (3rd) at Le Mans in June.
One thing is for certain; there aren't many GT drivers of Fred's capability that were available for Porsche to sign at the end of 2013, and we think he'll continue to serve quite well in his new Porsche team for the foreseeable future. It's safe to say that heading into the final few races of the 2014 WEC season, Porsche is happy they've got a weapon like Mako instead of having to compete against him.
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Image Source: and Porsche.