Fernando Alonso, IndyCar, McLaren Andretti, Indianapolis 500, 2017

McLaren would “love to race with Honda again” – in IndyCar


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McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says the team is “seriously considering” a full-time entry into IndyCar next season.

Brown visited last weekend’s IndyCar race at Detroit and met with Michael Andretti, whose team ran Fernando Alonso’s car in conjunction with McLaren at last year’s Indianapolis 500.

“We’re seriously considering IndyCar,” said Brown at the Canadian Grand Prix. “We’ve been doing some due diligence for quite some time.

“As stated before, if we’re going to get into other forms of motor sport, which McLaren has a great history in, then we need to do it in a way that first and foremost it doesn’t compromise our Formula 1 activities.

“We’ll 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 favourable and so we’ll take a decision in order to be prepared for 2019 sometime in the upcoming months. And if we’re confident all four of those elements tick those boxes then it’s something that we’ll probably move forward on.”

Brown also met with representatives from IndyCar’s two rival engine manufacturers, Chevrolet and Honda. McLaren split from the latter’s Formula 1 engine programme last year but Brown says he wouldn’t hesitate to reunite with them in IndyCar.

“There’s two engine manufacturers, both do an excellent job in IndyCar,” he said.

“And we’d love to race with Honda again. They make great engines, they’ve won a lot of races in IndyCar. So we wouldn’t hesitate to race with Honda again if that’s ultimately the direction we head in.”

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on “McLaren would “love to race with Honda again” – in IndyCar”

  1. This time they better enter as McLaren-TAG :p

  2. So, Michael Andretti was talking to Fernando in Canada. Fernando bad mouthing F1 as boring and predictable again, and Zak mention they’d run with Honda (who has a terrific IndyCar engine). Sounds like this is a done deal.

    If Fernando wins LeMans, he’d have a chance to go for the triple crown next year!

  3. The problem with McLaren going to Indycar is that it dilutes the value of their brand. Not because Indycar isn’t competitive, it is, but because it’s an automotive manufacturer racing a car designed and manufactured by someone else.

    I think a better long term path for McLaren in Indycar would be for them to eventually replace Dallara as the chassis manufacturer, or to convince IndyCar to run multiple chassis manufacturers like the old days.

    1. It would be great to see more than one chassis in IndyCar. I remember the CART days and how competitive it was, putting a bit of a scare into F1. Hope that can happen again. I actually turned down a job with Swift in California BITD……… wish I hadn’t, but there you go.

    2. The reality is most racing series are spec formula these days, and in America the only top-level series that isn’t spec based is the IMSA Sportscar series – which McLaren could enter as a factory team but they’d either have to enter GT Daytona, the lowest class, with their existing GT3 car, or they’d have to spend a lot of time and money developing a GTE car (I guess could be beneficial for Le Mans too but they aren’t going to do it just for IMSA) or a top class prototype (which wouldn’t make sense because this would mean either DPi, useless internationally, or LMP2, not really a manufacturer class).

      So if McLaren was going to pick a series to expand into in America, Indycar makes a lot of sense. They don’t need a big investment because they can align with an existing team (*cough* Andretti *cough*) and don’t need to do their own development work. Plus it means taking part in the Indy 500, which if they were to win is a massive amount of publicity.

      Also, I don’t think IndyCar will ever go back to multiple chassis manufacturers, like it or not. The best thing the series has going for it is it’s close, competitive racing which is significantly easier to control when everyone is driving the same car. Then of course there’s the safety concerns too – the rules would need to be very restrictive anyway for safety reasons, otherwise speeds on ovals would get crazy and even on the road and street courses there would likely be issues (because they aren’t Grade 1 circuits like F1 has). We already saw the series experiment with manufacturer-specific aero kits (which were still heavily restricted) and it didn’t really work out, so they’ve gone back to spec now. I don’t think it really diminishes the quality of the series that much – yes it’s not going to be a F1 rival like CART might have been heading towards, but I don’t think it needs to be.

      1. @vmaxmuffin, strictly speaking, even the IMSA Sportscar series is a semi spec series given the Daytona Prototype class cars are all based around an LMP2 chassis, with the bodywork on top meant to be mainly just about visually distinguishing the cars rather than being a performance differentiator (it is meant to be performance balanced via wind tunnel testing).

    3. Yes, a slow chassis for everyone! 1.5 seconds off the pace of the Dallara one.

    4. Nah, what dilutes the value of the McLaren brand is spending years as a backmarker in Formula 1.
      They need to be associated with a withing team, a winning formula. Nobody cares if they have produced the car or somebody else has, as long as it has a McLaren logo, it is a McLaren.
      Hey, Marlboro has never even made a car, but when you think Marloboro Formula 1, you think – WINNING, domination, Senna, Prost and those things.

  4. As Dieter already explained very well probably McLaren should just concentrate on F1 as here in Canada they are almost last on the grid.

    1. That’s a dumb analysis. If they had an indycar or lmp1 team, it would be a different group of workers, it’s not like suddenly their whole f1 department is going to have to not only focus on f1, but also indy.

      1. @kpkart The history of Mclaren shows and proves conclusively that every time Mclaren has been involved in a second series then their F1 team has suffered badly so check your facts before you call somebodies analysis dumb as it merely highlights your own lack of historical knowledge.

  5. I think it will be great to finally have a race team racing in multiple high end racing series. It might stop many people hating on other series they don’t like. It can make more people enjoy many forms of motorsport and appreciate there are many great drivers that are not in f1.

  6. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    10th June 2018, 12:04

    Alonso might have a different opinion ;)

  7. Seems like they already signed up just like Red Bull have got Honda for next year.

    Something different for McLaren but I hope they do well.

  8. Zak lost all my respect.
    McLaren is currently the slowest car in F1 team except for a driver line-up hampered Williams.
    He can’t even get a decent decal on the team.

    He can announce a tour de France entry and still would not earn my respect.

  9. Sounds like a way of keeping Alonso signed with McLaren. He remains with the team, with some freedom to drive either F1 and/or Indy. Not a bad option for either party.

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