McLaren boss Zak Brown has given the clearest indication yet that the company is serious about a future Le Mans 24 Hours programme – saying that the 2020/21 rules being discussed are “compelling”.
McLaren has been part of the group of manufacturers involved in shaping the future ‘GTP’ rules that will take the place of the current LMP1 class, and which will be announced in the coming weeks.
Brown is adamant that he wants to chase overall victory at La Sarthe, saying in Barcelona last weekend: “We would definitely consider it. We are considering it.
"McLaren has a long history in additional forms of motorsport, whether that was CanAm, IndyCar, we’ve won Le Mans [in 1995, pictured top].
"And with the new regulations coming up for [the] World Endurance [Championship], we are participating in those meetings, and reviewing what that looks like. We’re a fan of the Le Mans brand.
“We did the Indy 500 last year, that’s something that in the right circumstances, North America is an important market for us and we’re a fan of IndyCar racing.
"As we look at the budget cap, and how do you manage that, looking at additional forms of motor racing is something we are considering.”
Asked about the new Le Mans rules, he said: “The rules as being proposed, we find compelling.
"We would consider running the new, whatever they’re going to call it, GTP, silhouette, LMP1 – I’ve heard various phrases.
"What’s exciting is trying to go to Le Mans to win outright. That’s the highest value for a racing team.”
Brown said McLaren's shareholders – Mansour Ojjeh and the Bahrain sovereign wealth fund – are supportive of diversification, and a sportscar programme would be good PR for the road car division.
“They like the ideas as long as what we do is financially viable, makes sense for our brand, and we can be competitive. Our shareholders are a group of racers, which makes it a lot of fun to work for them.
“The Indy 500 project last year, when I brought that forward, and told them I thought it was commercially viable, and we’d be competitive, it didn’t take them very long to say, ‘Great idea, let’s do it’. From that standpoint, they’re great to work for.”
Brown also made it clear that he would be happy to involve Fernando Alonso, who will drive for Toyota in this year's Le Mans race, in the project.
“We’d like to have Fernando in our racing team for as long as he wants to drive," said Brown.
"He’ll continue driving beyond his Formula 1 career and if we’re in other forms of motor racing then of course we’d love to have Fernando in our car.”