Indy 500 experience gives McLaren a head start on full-time entry - Zak Brown

McLaren CEO Zak Brown says its entry into next year’s Indianapolis 500 could give it a head start on a full-time IndyCar campaign in 2020.

McLaren recently announced that it will compete at the 2019 running of the Indy 500 with two-time Formula 1 champion Fernando Alonso, two years after its previous effort when the Spaniard led the race before retiring with an engine failure.

McLaren has history racing in the United States as they participated in the USAC Indianapolis 500 Sweepstakes (as the race used to be known) during the 1970s.

The team eventually claimed victory at the brickyard with Johnny Rutherford in 1974 and 1976; McLaren also competed in the USAC Champ-Car series throughout the decade with relative success.

Brown believes the IndyCar market is of interest for McLaren and a longer-term project is therefore under consideration, with news that former Force India team boss Bob Fernley will oversee the creation of a new team as well as evaluating the possibility of a full-time entry in 2020.

"IndyCar as a series is attractive to McLaren Racing, we have big ambitions," said Brown, speaking before news of Fernley's appointment. "First and foremost to get back to winning Formula 1 races and championships.

"But we think the IndyCar series and the market which it races in and how they go motor racing is of interest to McLaren, so it's something from a longer-term point of view, continues to be under review and would certainly like to see us as a full-time entry in the future."

Given their experience in 2017 and 2019, Brown believes McLaren will be in better shape to commit to the series compared to a complete newcomer.

"Certainly we'll be in a position where we're there with the equipment, people, resources," added Brown. "So it gives us a head start if we ultimately decide to a full-time entry."