F1 podiums before Indy 500 return for McLaren says Zak Brown

While McLaren may seem happy for their star driver Fernando Alonso to pursue a career course that will see him racing more than just Formula 1 cars in the coming two years, steering the Woking squad into entering more series to follow Alonso is not on the agenda, for the time being.

So says team boss Zak Brown when he explained to Racer why McLaren would not be repeating their Indianapolis 500 entry this year with the Spaniard, or indeed with anyone else at the wheel.

Brown was adamant, despite the new field levelling universal body kits, that all his efforts would be focussed on Formula 1 and not going down the IndyCar route.

"No. I think the cars look great. I think the cars look really good, but [it's] too soon. With all that we've got going on in Formula 1, while the mechanics and engineers and all that are 100 per cent focused, the minute me or Jonathan Neale or John Allert or Eric [Boullier] are not spending 100 per cent of our time on Formula 1 that starts becoming a distraction for us.”

Clearly it would seem that his bosses (TAG’s Mansour Ojjeh and Mumtalakat’s Sheikh Mohammed bin Essa Al-Khalifa, who jointly own McLaren) have directed the flamboyant American to use his well known core talents towards finding more sponsorship money for the team.

"I've got to find more partners for our Formula 1 team, so any moment I'm trying to find an IndyCar team is a moment I'm not spending on trying to fund the Formula 1 team, which is priority number one.”

In going down this path, any ambitions that either Brown or McLaren may have had in the short term, to return to Indianapolis or even Le Mans, must now be put onto the back burner until the silverware starts returning to the F1 trophy cabinet.

"So I think before we leap into any of these other racing series, we've got to get back on the podium in F1. As a fan of McLaren and as a racer I want to do them all this year, but as a business we've got to lay out a 10-year strategy and why we're doing it, how we're doing it, how it's sustainable.

"With all that's going on, not only with our Formula 1 team but Formula 1 as a whole, we need to be spending all our time on making sure whatever happens in 2021 we're in a good place. So I don't think any of those other series are around the corner."