McLaren CEO Zak Brown says that the Formula 1 team won't be distracted from its ongoing resurgence by the announcement of a new US IndyCar venture.
In more than 50 years of Grand Prix competition, McLaren has picked up eight constructors championships and 12 driver titles. But the last of those was in 2008, and the last decade has seen somewhat hard times at Woking.
The squad finally appears to have turned the corner in 2019, and started to find its old form again with an all-new driver line-up consisting of Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris.
Brown says confirmation that McLaren is now on the right track was crucial when it came to deciding whether to branch out into full-time IndyCar racing, with a new tie-up with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports announced for 2020.
“Number one on the checklist when deciding when or if we go IndyCar racing is that it cannot be a distraction from Formula 1," Brown insisted this week. "We need to have the Formula 1 on a strong foundation.
"I wouldn’t have brought IndyCar forward if I didn’t feel the two could run in parallel," he added. "[They will] complement each other commercially, but have zero distractions to each other’s program from an on-track point of view.
“If this was 2018, I don’t think it would have been something I even brought forward, because I would have felt we weren’t ready to take on another project."
McLaren has dabbled in IndyCar racing in recent seasons by partnering with other teams to field an Indianapolis 500 entry for Fernando Alonso. The two-time F1 world champion has been seeking to become only the second driver in history to complete the unofficial Triple Crown of Motorsport.
However, next year is set to be the first time that McLaren will take part in a full season of IndyCar competition since 1979. And it's raised speculation that McLaren could also be heading back to endurance racing including a possible entry in the famous Le Mans 24 Hours race.
“Le Mans is something much like Indy that we want to go and do and we think it’s great for our automotive business," Brown commented. "But there’s a longer lead time to get into design and manufacture the cars.
“I wouldn’t say necessarily it’s on the backburner," he continued. "It just moves at a slower pace because it’s more complicated, in that we need to align it with our automotive business."
Brown said that a decision on whether McLaren would return to world endurance championship racing would also depend on forthcoming decisions about the future of F1, including the introduction of proposed budget controls for 2021.
"The cost cap, we really need to take that into consideration when we get into resource allocation for the future," Brown acknowledged. "We really need to know what the future of Formula 1 looks like to finish our analysis of a potential WEC program."