McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown describes the chances of his team entering the IndyCar series next year as “favorable.”
Brown (pictured above) has openly admitted he is exploring the opportunity of McLaren entering the championship in a full-time capacity in the future, and recent months have seen an acceleration in plans that could result in an entry as early as 2019. After a visit to Detroit last weekend to hold further discussions, Brown had Michael Andretti with him on Friday and Saturday at the Canadian Grand Prix and admits a positive decision is looking more likely.
“We’re seriously considering IndyCar,” Brown said. “We’ve been doing due diligence for quite some time. As stated before, if we’re going to get into other forms of motorsport — which McLaren has a great history in — we need to do it in a way that first and foremost doesn’t compromise our Formula 1 activities or we won’t consider it.
“It needs to be commercially viable, something we feel we can be competitive in and fits our brand. It has to tick all of those boxes, not most of those boxes.
“We’re not done yet with our due diligence but it’s looking favorable, so we will take a decision in order to be prepared for 2019 sometime in the upcoming months. If we’re confident all four of those elements really tick those boxes then it’s something that we will probably move forward on, but we’re not done with the journey yet.”
With Fernando Alonso racing for McLaren in last year’s Indianapolis 500, inevitably the Spaniard has been linked with a full-time IndyCar seat and Brown says conversations are ongoing about where he will race next year.
“We’re in talks with Fernando — as he said it was about this time last year that we started having conversations. He’s been doing Formula 1 a long time, he’s enjoying driving as much as he ever has. I think he’s driving better than he ever has.
“As he’s mentioned I think he’s a little frustrated with Formula 1 being, I think as he said, becoming more of a constructors’ championship than a drivers’ championship. He loves Formula 1, he loves World Endurance and Daytona, so hopefully we will keep Fernando in the McLaren environment in some way, shape or form.”
Despite a difficult relationship with Honda in Formula 1 that came to an end last year, Brown insists an IndyCar partnership is not out of the question.
“Yeah, there’s two engine manufacturers, both who do an excellent job in IndyCar. We’d love to race with Honda again. They make great engines, they win a lot of races in IndyCar, so we wouldn’t hesitate to race with Honda again if that was ultimately the direction we were headed in.
“We’ve spoken to both manufacturers in our process of exploring what we might want to do.”