McLaren needs to be successful in Formula 1 again before it will consider a full-time return to IndyCar, admits Zak Brown.
Last year’s Indy 500 appearance with Fernando Alonso left Brown open to the potential of a McLaren return to IndyCar in future in order to expand its presence in North America. But despite last year’s competitive entry, Brown ruled out a 2018 attempt at the 500 due to the team’s focus on its partnership with new power unit supplier Renault, with the executive director saying it is unclear whether the next McLaren appearance will be another one-off at Indianapolis or the full season.
Asked if there was a temptation to try and make the full-time move into IndyCar this year with the introduction of new aero kits leveling the field to a degree, Brown told RACER:
“No. I think the cars look great. I think the cars look really good, but [it’s] too soon. With all that we’ve got going on in Formula 1, while the mechanics and engineers and all that are 100 percent focused, the minute me or Jonathan Neale or John Allert or Eric [Boullier] are not spending 100 percent of our time on Formula 1 that starts becoming a distraction for us.
“I’ve got to find more partners for our Formula 1 team, so any moment I’m trying to find an IndyCar team is a moment I’m not spending on trying to fund the Formula 1 team, which is priority number one.
“So I think before we leap into any of these other racing series, we’ve got to get back on the podium in F1. As a fan of McLaren and as a racer I want to do them all this year, but as a business we’ve got to lay out a 10-year strategy and why we’re doing it, how we’re doing it, how it’s sustainable.
“With all that’s going on, not only with our Formula 1 team but Formula 1 as a whole, we need to be spending all our time on making sure whatever happens in 2021 we’re in a good place. So I don’t think any of those other series are around the corner.”