McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says a full-time entry into next year’s IndyCar series is now more likely than a one-off at Indianapolis.
Following his team’s failure to qualify for this year’s Indy 500 (pictured), Brown told RACER he felt it could be more sensible to only focus on the same race in 2020 in order to ensure it learns from its mistakes. At the time, Brown described it as “highly unlikely” there would be a full-time entry, but that stance has now changed as he still evaluates McLaren’s future in the United States.
“That’s still very much a work in progress,” Brown said at the German Grand Prix. “We learned a lot on what not to do this year in Indy. That was a rude awakening. I made a lot of mistakes in how I put that together. The reasons we want to go to Indy remain. That doesn’t change.
“I think when you have a failure you need to learn from it and grow. I think the easy thing is to not get back on the horse, but you can’t do that in life. I think you’ve got to dust yourself off and get back on the horse. So that is under active review.
“We would do it differently — needless to say — than we did it this year. And if we did it I’d be more inclined to look to do it on a full-time basis than a one-off. I think having tried that, that’s a pretty tall order. Or certainly to go at it by yourself I think is too tall an order.”
Fernando Alonso drove for McLaren at Indianapolis this year and retains an association with the team, but has previously stated he doesn’t want to do a full season of IndyCar. Brown believes that attitude could also change given the lack of confirmed drives Alonso currently has, and says he would be his first pick to lead such a project.
“I think on Fernando, we wanted him to test our Formula 1 car to validate everything that he was giving us feedback on last year. So the only statement we made was we weren’t going to have him test our Formula 1 car anymore and then that got picked up in the wrong way because our relationship is very much intact commercially, contractually — nothing’s changed.
“I’d love to have him involved in an IndyCar program if we were to do it and he wants to do it. He’s undecided on what he wants to do next year. I think this is the first time in 17 or 18 years he doesn’t have a calendar filled with racing next year, so I think he needs to take the summer break to reconcile in his own mind what he wants to do. But if we were to go IndyCar racing and he wanted to do it, of course he would be top of our list.
“We don’t want to shy away from spotlight. I think Fernando brings a tremendous amount of focus but I think as McLaren so do we. So that doesn’t really factor into our thinking of, ‘Let’s take a driver that doesn’t come with as much pressure.’ If we enter IndyCar it’s going to be to win races; ether that’s with Fernando or another driver. So I don’t think it changes those dynamics.”