Zak Brown says entering Indy 500 could become an annual event for McLaren


Could there be a yearly Indy 500 entry for McLaren? Credit: McLaren Media Centre

An entry into the Indianapolis 500 could be a yearly event for the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team, if McLaren Executive Director Zak Brown gets his way.

Having secured a place for driver Fernando Alonso in this year’s esteemed event, after playfully teasing the Spaniard over the last few months to gauge his interest in taking part in such a venture, the American would like to make it a common occurrence for the team, as he explained to Trackside on 1070 The Fan Radio in Indianapolis recently.

“I would like to see the Indy 500 being part of McLaren’s annual racing efforts.

“When we go racing, we have to make sure we do it competitively. It has to be commercially viable and fit our brand. We feel IndyCar and the Indianapolis 500 offer all those things to McLaren.

However, despite the enthusiasm from McLaren shareholder Mansour Ojjeh, Brown believes that being able to establish a full season entry, is still only in the early stages, and will take a considerable amount of time to arrange.

“I’d say a full season programme in McLaren is not yet under full consideration and would be years away because that would be a tall order.”

Alonso, who will miss this year’s Monaco Grand Prix to compete in the Indy 500, will enter the race in a combined venture between McLaren, Honda and Andretti Autosport, with the latter heading up the team under the management of Michael Andretti, although McLaren will be sending a small group of staff to give Alonso some familiarity, as Brown explained.

“Andretti Autosport will take the lead, Michael [Andretti] will be calling the race. It will be his team over the wall.

“We are sending out a small crew to support. We have some areas where some of the technology we’ve developed will be beneficial. From everything to the technology on the car to some of our people.

“We’ve got some people with some great IndyCar experience. We can’t detract or remove any effort from our Formula 1 [team]. It will be people from the factory that will have relevant experience.”

Alonso will be one of six cars run by Andretti Autosport in next month’s race, alongside regular drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Takuma Sato, Alexander Rossi, and rookie Jack Harvey, and will make his first IndyCar test appearance on May 3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Honda-powered squad won the Indy 500 last year with then debutant Rossi, a fact which will surely boost Alonso’s confidence in terms of his chances of victory over in America first time out.

That, along with being afforded the experience of team owner Michael Andretti, who will call the shots for the Spaniard on strategy, should make life a little easier on the double F1 world champion, despite having never driven an oval or Indy car previously.