Hulkenberg to make IndyCar test debut in “one-off” run for McLaren SP


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Nico Hulkenberg will drive an IndyCar for the first time in a test for McLaren SP at Barber Motorsport Park on October 25th, the team has announced.

The team described the test as a “one-off opportunity” to allow Hulkenberg to experience IndyCar machinery. However the team said it will “continue to evaluate a future third car programme”. Its 2022 line-up includes Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist. Juan Pablo Montoya drove a third entry for the team at two races this year.

“I am pleased to try out an IndyCar and see what it’s all about,” said Hulkenberg. “I want to thank Arrow McLaren SP and Chevy for the opportunity at relatively short notice.

“While I don’t have any current plans to race in IndyCar, it will be great to drive a car for the first time and get a feel for the series.”

Hulkenberg is currently the reserve driver for Aston Martin. Last year, when the team competed as Racing Point, he made three appearances as a substitute for Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll when they were diagnosed with Covid-19.

After leaving Renault at the end of the 2019 season, Hulkenberg said that he had assessed IndyCar as an option for a future career. However he admitted he was reluctant to race on oval tracks which make up five of the 17 rounds on next year’s schedule.

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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16 comments on “Hulkenberg to make IndyCar test debut in “one-off” run for McLaren SP”

  1. Interesting. Another ex-F1 driver does something IndyCar-related.

    1. Probably saw how well Grosjean is doing and thought, “I could succeed there!”

      1. Nope, that’s not what the article says. It’s McLaren’s decision to evaluate a driver, rather than a driver testing waters for himself.

    2. Indycar really does seem to be an attractive place for drivers now. It seems to be building every year. It’s a great series with fantastic racing and offers everyone a chance to win.

  2. As long as it pays the bills, why not.

  3. How long until we see a race with the top ten F1 cars and top ten Indy cars?

    1. @jimfromus Cars or Drivers?

    2. someone or something
      20th October 2021, 20:34

      Not anytime soon. IndyCar’s lap times are comparable to F2 or on some tracks F3, and F1 cars would look pretty lost on an oval, too. Unless the landscape changes massively, an actual race between cars of both categories is impossible.

      1. They’re faster than F2, and the racing is better than F1. They’ve slowed down due to the big weight of the aeroscreen and other safety additions to the car. The new engine regulation coming targets 900 HP so they’ll be much quicker.

        The attraction with IndyCar is it has great drivers, terrific tracks and history, and a chance to win the biggest race in the world.

        1. someone or something
          21st October 2021, 2:44

          They’re faster than F2

          Not according to the available data. CotA in 2019 is the only recent semi-reliable point of comparison between IndyCar and F1, establishing a gap of 13.5 seconds per lap in qualifying (about 15 when factoring in the fact that IndyCar basically altered the track layout and ignored a corner).
          That’s firmly in F2 territory.

          and the racing is better than F1.

          I’m not going to disagree with that. But it doesn’t have anything to do with my point. And that point is:
          F1 and IndyCar are worlds apart in terms of lap times. So much so that F2 would be a more suitable candidate for a hypothetical cross-category race.

        2. Don,

          Have to agree with “someone or something” post.

          Indy car is no comparison to F1 car performance. There’s been several comparisons done in the past. Indy car compares more squarely with F2 in track times. Indy car is about 14%-15% slower than a F1 and thats pretty much about the same as a F2 car.

          Dallara F2: 620 horsepower and 720 kilograms
          Dallara Indy road course spec: 675 horsepower and 730 kilograms
          Aero packages between the two helps even them out.

          The next Indy PU will be bigger but also much heavier so way too early to guess lap times.

  4. McLaren could be the most savvy team in motor racing. Why? Because they realize that there is a huge cross-over potential between F1 and Indy. Look what happened when Grosjean got a ride and how many more F1 fans started paying attention to Indy. Giving a seat to Nico would bring a lot more, with the difference being that McLaren is in both camps and thus it would give their marketing arm a fantastic boost as attention flowed both ways. Nice move, McLaren, if you really make it.

    1. It’s a shame that Jenson Button’s drive for them this season didn’t happen. That could have been another level of attention for them and the whole of IndyCar.

  5. Hulk retuns home

  6. Nico could impress people in Indycar as he is a good driver (but a bit unluckly) and i was supprised to hear he was consider it but was weary of the ovals races.

  7. I guess he still harbors a hope of an F1 return, but at 34 should probably see the writing on the wall and go to Indycar and enjoy the end of his career racing. I bet he’ll love it and do well.

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