Rossi sees advantage for McLaren over rivals in unique F1-IndyCar team set-up


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Alexander Rossi sees benefits in the McLaren’s unique combination of Formula 1 and IndyCar programmes, having joined the latter operation for 2023.

He arrives at McLaren after seven years at Andretti Autosport, which is seeking to emulate its rival team by adding an F1 entry alongside its existing IndyCar squad.

McLaren go into their fourth season in IndyCar since their full-time return to the series this year. In that time they have won four races, all with Rossi’s team mate Pato O’Ward, and have also expanded to race in Extreme E and now Formula E.

They added a third full-time IndyCar entry in order to field Rossi this year. “It’s been very cool to kind of watch them evolve and expand over the past couple of months,” their new driver said.

“Obviously I don’t have a benchmark of what they were before, but certainly the commitment to kind of performance and results goes without saying. It’s apparent throughout every level of the organisation. I’m very excited to get on track and stop talking about it and just get to work and start driving.”

Rossi’s IndyCar career so far includes eight race wins, the first being his famous Indianapolis 500 victory as a rookie, and he was championship runner-up in 2018.

He has already worked for McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, having driven in the Australian Supercars championship’s famous Bathurst 1000 race for the Walkinshaw Andretti United team, which Brown is a shareholder in through his United Autosports squad.

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Brown “leads the charge” in encouraging people to join McLaren, said Rossi. “It’s pretty amazing to me with how easy he is how involved he is with every aspect of the IndyCar organisation, the F1 organisation, his sports car program. I don’t know how he’s in so many places at once, seemingly.

Brown is “involved with every aspect of the IndyCar organisation”
“He makes an effort to keep everyone up-to-date from top to bottom as to where things are, what the current objectives are and what’s future looks like.”

Rossi sees clear benefits for McLaren’s IndyCar team from the fact the team also competes in F1. “I think what’s very cool about McLaren is we do have the resources of the McLaren F1 team,” he said. “They very much are being integrated in a lot of respects.

“It’s not two separate entities. McLaren Racing, if you will, is one organisation that has its people and resources and intellect in kind of everything. It’s been pretty cool to see how that can be an advantage to us in terms of people, resources, simulations, software, kind of everything. We’ve been able to kind of rely on that and use that as a tool that maybe other teams certainly don’t have.”

O’Ward will have some involvement with McLaren’s F1 team this year, most likely after the IndyCar season concludes in September. But there has been no indication that Rossi, who has five grand prix starts to his name, or Felix Rosenqvist will get F1 test mileage in 2023.

However McLaren’s F1 arm have already looked elsewhere in the IndyCar talent pool, signing Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou as one of their reserve drivers for this season.

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Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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8 comments on “Rossi sees advantage for McLaren over rivals in unique F1-IndyCar team set-up”

  1. Could it be an advantage over IndyCar rivals? Sure. But I am convinced it is not doing their F1 side of things any good. It’s not only IndyCar, but also FE and XE that are forming distractions. If McLaren wants to succeed in F1 again, it should be making F1 their priority and not get too involved in all these side activities.

    1. Nah. F1 is based around an engineering car development program, which has nothing to do with Indycar, nor vice versa.
      You’ve never said F1 Mercedes were distracted by their DTM involvement, have you?

    2. There are plenty of examples of other teams spreading themselves across multiple series.
      Take Penske (USA), Walkinshaw (UK) or Triple Eight (UK) entering into Aussie Supercars, for example. Or Williams F1 in BTCC in the early 90’s….
      I’ll leave it up to you to research their results… ;)

      Each time a team invests in a new project, they increase their team resources (including financially) and the pool of talent available to them.
      Not exactly a negative.

      1. Zak is a marketing master. The IndyCar program doesn’t pull any money from their F1 programs as it’s fully funded. It has helped the F1 program get additional sponsors such as Arrow and others. Surprised that more F1 teams don’t join IndyCar. It would help their programs.

        1. Excellent point. McLaren is becoming a well-known name in the US now, even without any mention of F1.
          Can only be beneficial to them as a brand, both as a racing business and as an automotive manufacturer.

  2. Yes, I know the cars are different and the tracks are different, but I’m wondering if McLaren is finding correlative aero data between the two series. IndyCar has way more testing time than F1 and the characteristics of some US tracks/corners may model some F1 tracks. Any such correlation could be useful. But this is pure speculation.

  3. Thinking about this some more, running multiple race teams means factory and supporting costs (including simulator etc) could be split across multiple entities. Not only does this make good business sense, but in cost-cap environment, reducing the unit cost of… well anything, is an advantage.

    I mean, that is of course assuming that the non-human resources aren’t already operating at capacity.

    Would make managing the cost cap a nightmare though.

  4. Surprised McLaren haven’t done a filming day that involves their F1, Indycar and Formula E cars together on track at same time. Unique opportunity to demo the breadth of their motorsports involvement.

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