If McLaren’s desired IndyCar Series program comes to fruition next season, Stoffel Vandoorne could be its full-time solution. With McLaren set to move forward in Formula 1 without Fernando Alonso and his Belgian teammate Vandoorne, team CEO Zak Brown says the Spaniard isn’t the only option he’s considering for the program.
“Yes, I think he’s an extremely fast driver, very consistent,” he told RACER. “I think he’d make a great sports car driver and a great IndyCar driver. I think he’d make a good Formula 1 driver, we just had a difficult two years.”
With the 2015 GP2 champion looking unlikely to land with another F1 outfit, Brown believes Vandoorne would be open to a career reboot in North America.
“Yes, we have a good relationship,” he continued. “Obviously, it’s difficult when you don’t renew someone, but he’s a professional. We’re fans of his. McLaren would definitely race with Stoffel in other racing series and I think it would be great to see his story continue with McLaren.”
Brown and McLaren are said to be a few weeks away from making a final decision on whether an IndyCar program will go forward in 2019. Brown also says McLaren has options to partner with Honda Performance Development for an IndyCar engine supply.
“We’re close to a decision, we’re close to a decision,” he added. “We’d be happy to work with Honda, yes.”
Alonso’s plans for 2019 remain unclear, beyond his commitments to Toyota through the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Brown’s business partner Michael Andretti has said he expected Alonso to make a second run at winning the Indy 500 next year, but the two-time F1 world champion has not declared whether a full-time IndyCar campaign will fill his first season away from grand prix racing. It could, provided McLaren commits to IndyCar, provide Vandoorne with an unexpected opportunity to try his hand at the complex and diverse challenges posed within IndyCar’s 17-race calendar.