A Test For McLaren At Indy

The McLaren team at the Texas Motor Speedway test. [Chris Owens Photo]

The McLaren team at the Texas Motor Speedway test. [Chris Owens Photo]

By Allan Brewer

Though Formula 1 is CEO Zak Brown of McLaren’s first and foremost priority, there is a great deal of passionate energy flowing into the racing team’s Indianapolis 500 return later this month. Brown made a guest appearance in Long Beach over the weekend to pump up some excitement some six weeks ahead of the great race. “It was going to be very important for me to get to an INDYCAR race early just to see all of you,” he said to a press gathering on Saturday.

The Indy 500 entry from McLaren that bears the name of Fernando Alonso should, in the CEO’s mind, “really be able to build our brand further in North America. It’s a very important market for McLaren.”

There’s a sense of pleading urgency in those words, perhaps informed by McLaren’s faltering reputation in Formula 1. Despite off-season changes at the team, the F1 season results have been only modestly improved. This weekend, in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix , no McLaren saw the track in Q3 for the first time in 2019. Drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris admitted that their pace in Shanghai was more representative of McLaren’s current performance than their showings in both Australia and Bahrain had been. “We knew this track would expose our weaknesses,” said Sainz.

With a reassuring tone Brown went on to describe Alonso’s car as a “full-blown McLaren effort” with some assistance from Carlin Racing. ”We now have two cars built, one in the UK and one in the States (by Carlin),” Brown said. “We’ve got a lot of resources at McLaren’s facility to build cars, but we knew one car was going to be a big enough of a task, and so we wanted to focus on that.”

No one should question McLaren’s pedigree at the Brickyard. “We’ve got a great history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” Brown correctly points out. “You’ve got to have massive respect for the Speedway. It can bite you quickly.”

“We were in Texas on Tuesday, getting ready for the April 24th Indianapolis Open Test. We got 105 laps in. We got Fernando comfortable.”

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