McLaren will create "whole separate team" for Indy 500
McLaren boss Zak Brown says a "whole separate team" will be created to run the company's Indy 500 entry with Fernando Alonso in 2019.
In 2017 Alonso contested the race as an Andretti Autosport entry, and while that had obvious McLaren marketing support, the only direct technical connection with Woking was the presence of Formula 1 team veteran Neil Oatley in an observer capacity.
The time there will be a more direct involvement with a team put together under the McLaren Racing banner, which is expected to be run with Andretti technical backing.
Neither that, nor an expected Chevrolet engine deal have yet to be officially confirmed, but Michael Andretti has said on Twitter that his team will again been involved.
Brown is adamant that the F1 programme will not be impacted by this new entry, even if more technical resources are channeled from Woking.
"It’s a whole separate racing team that will be created," he said. "We’re a large racing team with lots of resources, and I’m extremely confident - or we would not have entered - that we will give maximum effort to F1 and this Indy 500 effort without one compromising the other.
“It’s going to be people that aren’t currently on our F1 team. It will be built up from relationships that we have. But yes, it will be a new McLaren entry.
“We always had a desire to go as McLaren Racing, last time we did it at such short notice I think it would have been impossible – I think it was six weeks between announcing and racing – and you can’t build a race team up that quickly.
“The shareholders and ourselves wanted to go as McLaren Racing, that’s why we made the announcement today, to give us sufficient time to bring those resources and people in, to have our own team.”
Brown described entering the Indy 500 with Alonso as a "no-brainer decision", adding: "We always wanted to do it, as we’ve been speaking about, but we always wanted to make sure we got everything in place, and we’re happy with where we’re at. And hence the announcement.”
With Alonso's Indy 500 entry being part of his quest to claim the Triple Crown of Motorsport, Brown stressed that McLaren's target for the 2019 race would be to win.
“Our commitment to Fernando and ourselves is that we are going to give him and ourselves every chance to be competitive, and we’re going there with every chance of trying to win the race.
"So equipment, testing, personnel, all those will be of the highest calibre to have the best chances possible for Fernando to try and drink the milk.”
Asked whether the entry could be a two-car effort, Brown said: “I don’t think I’m going to comment on that at this moment.”
However, he did concede that it could be a useful precursor to a full IndyCar programme in the future.
“Certainly we’ll be in a position where we’re there with the equipment, people, resources, so it certainly gives you a head start if ultimately we decide to do a full-time entry.
“IndyCar as a series is attractive to McLaren Racing. We have big ambitions, first and foremost to get back to winning world championships, and winning F1 races, but we think the IndyCar series, the market which is races in, how they go motor racing, is of interest to McLaren.
“It’s something that from a longer term point of view continues to be under review, and which certainly I’d like to see us [as] a full-time entry in the future.”
Fernando Alonso, Andretti Autosport Honda
Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / LAT Images
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