The FIA World Endurance Championship could see McLaren join the grid in the second half of the ‘Hypercars’ inaugural season.
Zak Brown has already confirmed that McLaren will not be on the FIA World Endurance Championship grid at the start of the 2020/21 season, when the new ‘Hypercars’ are introduced, but options for joining the championship in 2021 are “in discussion”.“
It is definitely something we are evaluating, although I wouldn’t call it a plan yet,” Brown said to Motorsport.com.The ‘Hypercar’ concept was designed to try and attract more manufacturers to the WEC after the loss of Porsche and Audi Sport from the front-running LMP1 class. It is great to see more manufacturers looking to the WEC and hopefully the ‘Hypercars’ will relight the competitive spark that the front of the field has been missing in 2018.
Speaking of the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans, Brown refused to confirm anything, but it is expected that this is the race that McLaren would look to have their ‘Hypercar’ ready for. Usually, teams use the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps to test for Le Mans, so it is predicted that, if McLaren do develop a ‘Hypercar’ for 2021, this would be the first race we see it on track.
“It would be risky to make our debut at the Le Mans 2021, so we would need to be ready a race or two beforehand,” Brown said, giving a little insight into the future plans of McLaren’s ‘Hypercar’ debut. “Whether we are ready to go racing in April or May 2021 depends on how quickly we can make a decision.”
Not willing to give a firm deadline, Brown said that he hoped McLaren would come to a decision on their WEC entry by early 2019.
“We are closer to a decision now that the rules are final,” he said. “We are pleased with the way they have ended up, so the ball is now in our court and we’re hard on it. There are lots of things to consider: we have to put it together technically and fiscally, and we have to consider Formula 1, which will remain our priority.
After a torrid five years in Formula One, it is debatable whether McLaren should be splitting its attention to too many new projects. With McLaren and Fernando Alonso returning to the Indy500 next year and talks of a full season IndyCar team being set up, a WEC ‘Hypercar’ entry could take the team’s eyes away from F1.
McLaren has been involved in the process of formulating the ‘Hypercar’ class, along with Toyota, Aston Martin, Ferrari, BMW and Ford, so it is no surprise that they have shown interesting in joining the series.
If all six car makers end up taking to the ‘Hypercar’ grid in the 2020/21 WEC season, it will surely be a championship not to miss.