McLaren CEO Zak Brown feels competing in the Indianapolis 500 will help the British team’s Formula 1 efforts, brand and sponsors reach more people in the United States.
It was announced in November 2018 McLaren Racing would form a new team specifically for the 103rd running of the Indy 500; powered by Chevrolet engines with two-time F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso behind the wheel of the single-car entry.
Alonso previously attempted the famous race at the Brickyard in 2017, leading 27 out of the 179 laps he completed before retiring with just 21 laps to go when his Honda engine failed.
Brown is keen to use the Indy 500 as a platform to promote McLaren and its partners in what he says is a key, but also undervalued market for F1.
“I think North America remains a key growth market for Formula 1, the biggest sporting market in the world, and I think Formula 1 has lots of room for growth,” Brown told IndyCar.com.
“That is one of the reasons why we are competing in the Indy 500, because we think Indianapolis and the IndyCar Series … for seven out of 10 sponsors, America is an important market.
“Formula 1 right now can’t quite ring that bell as loudly as a lot of partners would like, so we feel Indy car racing for a variety of reasons, but that being one of them, helps round out a global proposition for our partners.”
McLaren’s F1 efforts have suffered in recent years with a steep slide in their competitiveness, having not won a race since the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2012 with Jenson Button.