Although Fernando Alonso’s upcoming Indianapolis 500 bid has caught the entire racing world by surprise, if he’d had things his way, the news of his entry wouldn’t even be the biggest bombshell surrounding the historic race.
Former Formula One driver and 2015 World Endurance Championship driver’s champion Mark Webber recently revealed Alonso wanted the Aussie to join him in taking on the American leg of the triple crown, according to NBC Sports. Both drivers have Monaco Grand Prix victories, but unlike Alonso, Webber already has attempted two of the three races that comprise the triple crown.
Webber has run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on four occasions — one with Mercedes-Benz in 1998 and three with Porsche from 2014 to 2016 — with a P2 finish in 2015 being the closest he’s come to winning. Had he won Le Mans, Webber, rather than Alonso, currently would be pegged as the most likely candidate to win the triple crown.
“That’s a close shave because if I did get to the next step (of the podium), I had pressure,” Webber said, according to NBC Sports. “Maybe it’s good I stayed on the second step. Fernando still asked me to maybe try to do Indy.”
Despite being far outside his comfort zone, Webber thinks he would excel on an oval. Sebastian Vettel’s race engineer during Webber’s time at Red Bull Racing, Guillaume “Rocky” Rocquelin, previously worked with Sebastien Bourdais at Newman/Haas Racing and reportedly told him he “would be perfect for ovals.”
Even though he’s confident in his ability to be competitive at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Indy apparently isn’t appealing to Webber. However, he doesn’t turn up his nose at the event, as some within F1 do.
“I wasn’t overly interested to go there,” Webber said, via NBC Sports. “I have absolute respect, my heroes like Rick Mears and Mario (Andretti) and Al Unser, these guys, Roger Penske, (Dario Franchitti’s) a good friend of mine, Scott Dixon, Will Power. I have maximum respect for those guys but it’s something I didn’t want, I never really wanted to go and see.”
Although he clearly respects the race, we’re hardly surprised Webber declined Alonso’s offer to run in the Indy 500. Considering he cited his past crashes, both in F1 and WEC, as the reason for retiring while at the top of his game, it would have been odd for him to come out of retirement to run at over 220 mph within feet of a wall for 500 miles.
Thumbnail photo via Red Bull Content Pool