F1 rules shake-up offers McLaren 'whole new world' in WEC

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McLaren CEO Zak Brown has confirmed that the team is hoping to take advantage of forthcoming new Formula 1 rules and the proposed cost cap as an opportunity to enter the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2021.

Crucial to the decision is the Automobile Club de l’Ouest's announcement of new regulations for its top category.

"Now we've got the rule book, we are seriously looking at bringing McLaren back to endurance racing," Brown said earlier this week.

"We wanted to be able to use a car we already made with technology we already have," he told the official Le Mans race website. "And it looks like the new regulations will permit that.

"We like the look of rules and we are considering taking part in the next WEC. If we want to take part in the 2020-21 season, we've no time to lose. Which means we'll be deciding soon!"

McLaren had been actively involved in the discussions surrounding the new hypercar category rules in the hope of entering the series.

Speaking to the media this weekend at the 24 Hours race, Brown expanded on his earlier comments and his hopes for the team's participation.

“I think it is good that they have finalised [the rule book] and announced it because it gives us something to react to,” he said. "Overall we’re pleased with the direction.

"We will all work together to ultimately come forward on a recommendation on if we are going to do it, how we are going to do it, when we are going to do it.”

He added that he tended to "lean towards the road car-based side of the new regulations".

Mclaren Senna GTR 06-07.03.2018.

Naturally money is a factor in McLaren's decision. Brown explained that the proposed F1 cost cap could help to release the funds that the team would need to take part.

"Formula 1 has to economically make sense, which currently it doesn’t. But hopefully with the budget cap coming in it will economically more viable.

“On the F1 front there is a whole new world in terms of the regulations, so there may be an opportunity to deploy people in a different way.

"As you look to restructure your whole organisation, that is opportune timing," he explained. "It's all part of the analysis of how and when we would we do it

"The budget cap comes in in 2021, so the soonest we would be ready here [in WEC] is in 2021."

McLaren is also mulling an entry into the US open wheel IndyCar Series, despite its embarrassing flop in this year's qualifying session for the Indianapolis 500 which saw Fernando Alonso fail to make the grid.

Brown insisted that such 'side projects' in WEC and IndyCar would not adversely affect the core F1 operation at Woking.

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Toyota Gazoo Racing.

"All of our racing decisions would be taken in isolation," he said. "It would have nothing to do with our F1 team.

"A bespoke team would be set up to run it, so it would not disrupt our F1 activities," he pledged.

As for Alonso, the two-time world champion continues to figure in McLaren's plans, whether in F1, IndyCar or in WEC.

“Fernando is part of the McLaren family,” said sporting director Gil de Ferran. “I think any team would be glad to have Fernando driving in one of their cars, and we are no exception.

"We’ll be looking towards having the best possible driver line-up," de Ferran added. "If that includes some of our F1 drivers that would be great."

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