McLaren eyes "full-works" IndyCar program in future (5th Update)
UPDATE Following the announcement that Brown’s United Autosports and Andretti Autosport have bought into Walkinshaw Racing Supercars team, both have suggested a possible renewal of the partnership in 2018, although neither made any reference to Alonso returning. The Spaniard has yet to renew his contract with McLaren, which will be switching to Renault engines next year.
Andretti told Motorsport.com: “There’s still a good chance that McLaren can be at Indy with us next year, so we’ll see.
“Zak is trying to get his house in order a little bit, but the plan is to do things together in the future, hopefully at Indy.”
Brown expressed similar sentiments, but suggested that improving McLaren’s fortunes in Formula 1 – it is currently ninth out of 10 teams in the constructors’ championship – was a priority.
He told Motorsport.com: “IndyCar remains of interest to McLaren. We had an outstanding experience with Andretti Autosport and we continue to explore ways to continue our involvement.
“[But] 2018 is around the corner and we are very focused on F1 right now.”
10/04/17 McLaren Technology Group appears to be rolling closer to a full-time run in the IndyCar Series according to IBJ.com.
“Next time we come back [to IndyCar], we want to do it in a long-term and meaningful way,” Brown recently told IBJ.
Brown said it’s “not likely” McLaren would be ready to do that in 2018, but said a return to IndyCar--this time for the full season--is “a solid possibility” in 2019.
The IndyCar Series is appealing, Brown said, due to its following in North America, a market in which Formula One--where McLaren competes--has limited exposure. This year, F1 only has three races in North America--Canada, Mexico and the USA.
“McLaren has a long, successful history in IndyCar and specifically the Indy 500. This year’s race was a wonderful experience for everyone at McLaren,” Brown said. “America is an important market to us and we are interested in IndyCar in the future. It fits our brand well and our partners have interest in IndyCar and America, so when we find ourselves in a situation where we can be competitive and it’s commercially viable for us without it being a distraction to Formula One, we will take a serious look at entering.”
In addition to the North American reach, Brown said the Indianapolis Motor Speedway “continues to be an iconic facility with a very strong brand. And the Indianapolis 500 is still a very strong brand worldwide.”
“Anywhere in the world you go, everybody knows the Indianapolis 500,” said Brown, who’s now based in London.
08/10/17 (GMM) McLaren may not be heading back to Indycar in 2018, but the future is another matter entirely.
That is the claim of Mark Miles, the boss of the premier American open wheeler series.
Earlier this year, Fernando Alonso sat out Monaco as both he, McLaren and Honda teamed up with the Andretti outfit at the Indy 500.
But McLaren boss Zak Brown this week dismissed as "completely untrue" rumors Alonso could now skip Singapore to head back to the US for the Indycar finale in September.
However, that may not be the end of the story.
"We know that there are options for McLaren to return to the Indianapolis 500 next year with Andretti Autosport," Indycar CEO Mark Miles told Spain's El Mundeo Deportivo.
"And McLaren is still interested in being a team in the Verizon Indycar series full time, probably not for 2018 but perhaps in 2019. Zak (Brown) keeps asking questions about our schedule," Miles added.
06/11/17 (GMM) Zak Brown has played down rumors McLaren could launch a full-time Indycar team.
Fernando Alonso was recently competitive as he skipped Monaco to do the Indy 500, with a McLaren-Honda entry supported by the top Andretti team.
"Yes, I would like to see McLaren at the Indy 500 regularly," executive Brown is quoted by Speed Week.
"But that decision has not been taken. At the earliest we will decide in a few months but if it was just up to me, we will return," he said.
However, he said rumors McLaren could enter a team in the full Indycar series are wide of the mark, at least for the "next few years".
"If we wanted to do it as well as we would want to, then Indycar is not a topic at the moment," said Brown.
05/25/17 During yesterday's Indy 500 media conference with Zak Brown he said, "North America is a very important, market for us. We're a racing team, but also have other businesses.
"Our criteria for competing outside of Formula One is that it has to be commercially viable, we have to feel we can be competitive, it fits our brand, and it doesn't detract from our Formula One efforts.
"Indy 500 and IndyCar tick those boxes.
"It (IndyCar) is something that we're definitely going to discuss and (we) have met with IndyCar, and are certainly interested in competing in some way, shape or form (as a full team, or chassis supplier) in the not-too-distant future."
|Alonso's car will be the historic McLaren Papaya Orange like Rutherford ran in 1973 - seen here after winning the pole at Indy|
Mansour Ojjeh (Executive Committee Principal, McLaren Technology Group) said:
"Even though I've been a major shareholder and director of McLaren for more than 30 years, I arrived after our first IndyCar era had come to an end [in the late '70s]. Nonetheless, I've attended the Indy 500, and I came away hugely impressed by the scope and scale of this enormous and well-organised event, and the sheer enthusiasm of the hundreds of thousands of fans in attendance.
"McLaren first entered the Indy 500 in 1970. We didn't do well that year – it was the year of the sad and sudden death of our founder Bruce McLaren of course – but at Indianapolis the following year, 1971, Mark Donohue qualified his McLaren M16 in pole position. The next year, in a privateer M16B operated by Roger Penske, Donohue became the first man to win the Indy 500 in a McLaren. Johnny Rutherford would repeat the feat in both 1974 and 1976, both times in a full-works McLaren, resplendent in papaya orange.
"So, more than 30 years later, I'm pleased and proud that we're about to embark on a new IndyCar era for McLaren, this time with Andretti Autosport and Honda. The Indy 500 is the only IndyCar race we'll be entering this year, but we may possibly repeat that in years to come and it's just possible that we may even run a full-works McLaren IndyCar operation at some point in the future. We'll see."