Ex-Formula 1 and sportscar driver Mark Webber says he never considered entering the Indianapolis 500 and chasing motorsport’s Triple Crown, having been put off by racing on ovals.
Webber’s former colleague and long-time friend Fernando Alonso shocked the motorsport world last month by announcing his entry to this year’s Indy 500, opting to skip the Monaco Grand Prix.
Alonso’s decision to race in the ‘500 was fuelled by his desire to win the Triple Crown, having already taken the Monaco leg in 2006 and 2007. The Spaniard remains keen to race at Le Mans as well.
Webber is one of the few drivers in recent years who has been within striking distance of the Triple Crown, winning the Monaco Grand Prix twice and having a number of near-misses for victory at Le Mans.
Speaking to reporters at Spa over the FIA World Endurance Championship race weekend, Webber said he had no desire to race at Indianapolis despite having a chance to enter CART for 2000.
“I would have liked to of course won Le Mans, I went very close. Led every year I was there, pretty fast as well in certain years and it didn’t line up for us,” Webber said.
“But I wasn’t interested in Indy. I wasn’t overly interested to go there. I have absolute respect, my heroes like Rick Mears and Mario and Al Unser, these guys, Roger Penske, Dario’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.
“There was a chance I could have gone to IndyCar in ’99 with Forsythe, because Greg Moore was going to Penske. That was a period. After that I wanted to stay in Europe.
“I think I would do well in oval racing. Rocky, who was Sebastian Vettel’s engineer at Red Bull, he said ‘you would go really well on ovals’, because he did a lot of work with Sebastien Bourdais at Newman/Haas, and he said ‘look Mark, you would be perfect for ovals’. I said ‘thanks, but I’m probably not going to try’.”
Webber did admit that there may have been more pressure on him to race at Indianapolis had he won Le Mans, with Alonso even asking him to come and join him for the race this month.
“That’s a close shave because if I did get to the next step, I had pressure. Maybe it’s good I stayed on the second step,” Webber said.
“Fernando still asked me to maybe try to do Indy.”