Mark Webber believes there’s “no rush at all” for Fernando Alonso to make his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut, amid the Spaniard’s goal of becoming only the second driver to win the unofficial “Triple Crown” of motorsports.
Alonso, who will be taking part in this month’s Indianapolis 500 for the first time in a McLaren-backed entry fielded by Andretti Autosport, has long been linked to a drive at Webber’s former Porsche LMP1 team at Le Mans and in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
While any immediate plans of Alonso joining the German squad have been ruled out, Webber, a longtime friend and competitor of the two-time World Champion, said he still has a number of years ahead of him to tick off the box at Le Mans.
“I think to do Formula 1, Indy and Le Mans in a year is not possible,” Webber said during last weekend’s WEC Six Hours of Spa.
“He’s already proving he can do Indy this year because it’s quite relaxing,
“Formula 1, for him at the moment, because it’s not really a challenge. So he has the mindset and the hunger and the appetite to try something new.
“Le Mans he has time. He’s 36, right? Next 10 years. He can do it in the next 10 years. There’s no rush at all.
“He can take time to get Indy and then the opportunity has to be there to win Le Mans, which can also take a while. Or it can take one year.”
Webber, who remains a brand ambassador for Porsche, said he talked with Alonso about his triple crown ambitions during the recent F1 weekend in Bahrain and told him to “go for it.”
The Spaniard, already a two-time Monaco Grand Prix winner, is attempting to emulate Graham Hill, with overall victories at Monaco, Indianapolis and Le Mans.
“Both races in the last few years have had some interesting scenarios, with [Alexander] Rossi and the 19 [Porsche] winning at Le Mans in one attempt in terms of rookie situation,” Webber said.
“The stars aligned, like for Rossi at Indy. One attempt, bang. This maybe happens once every 20 years, but that’s the type of racing it is.
“The racing can be like that. So they both are tricky to one, but the lottery factor can also give you a win. Skill’s not in question.
“Can he win both? I believe yes, but time is the interesting component.”
While Alonso has gained massive mainstream media attention for his upcoming debut, the now-retired Webber admits Indianapolis was never really on his radar screen, despite a former team engineer saying he’d be good on ovals.
Webber revealed that Alonso even asked him to him at Indy this year, behind the wheel.
“I have absolute respect, my heroes like Rick Mears and Mario [Andretti] and Al Unser, these guys, Roger Penske, Dario [Franchitti] is a good friend of mine, Scott Dixon, Will Power,” Webber said.
“I have maximum respect for those guys but it’s something I didn’t want, I never really wanted to go and see.
“I was there in ’99, 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.”
Webber, however, admits that if he had won Le Mans, the prospects of the Triple Crown would have been tempting.
“That’s a close shave because if I did get to the next step, I had pressure,” he said.
“Maybe it’s good I stayed on the second step. Indy would be, then I would have a bit more pressure.”