McLaren IndyCar presence a path to F1 for young talent – Rossi

Pato O'Ward (MEX) McLaren MCL36 Test Driver. 18.11.2022. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 22, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, Practice
© XPB 

Alexander Rossi believes that McLaren's presence in IndyCar gives the F1 team a tremendous insight into the driver talent nestled in the American series.

In an effort to diversify its racing activities, McLaren acquired an interest several years ago in Schmidt Peterson Motorsports before it became the majority stakeholder in the outfit - now called Arrow McLaren SP - in November of 2021.

McLaren's increased presence in IndyCar has resulted last in several drivers – namely Pato O'Ward, Alex Palou and Colton Herta – signing F1 test contracts with the Woking-based outfit.

Rossi, who moves this year from Andretti Autosport to Arrow McLaren SP, believes that McLaren has a unique vantage point from which to scrutinize and assess young talent in IndyCar, which in turn provides drivers with a pipeline to Formula 1.


"Because they have feet on the ground, if you will, in this championship, they will have a very direct understanding of people’s performance," Rossi told RACER.

"They’ll know the equipment that they’re in, they’ll know the race that they did something special, or they’ll know a qualifying session that they’ll be able to very easily analyze it because they’re actively involved.

"It’s a lot harder when you have a Sauber or Alfa Romeo that’s looking at an IndyCar race and looking at a driver and not really knowing was that season that they had a result of incredible driver performance, or was it a result of they got really fortunate in a couple of situations that set them up for a championship contention? It’s harder to know when you’re not involved.

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"So I do think that having McLaren and how closely connected the F1 team and IndyCar team is, it’ll definitely bridge that gap.

"And most likely give guys an opportunity, if it’s deserved, that doesn’t necessarily mean it comes from within the organization.

"If there’s someone that’s doing something incredibly special, that’s beating all of us, it’s a small world and that news will travel rather quickly."

Arrow McLaren SP driver Alexander RossiBefore establishing himself as a front-runner in IndyCar, Rossi aspired to race in Formula 1, which he did in 2015 with minnow outfit Manor.

The American ran with the British team in the final five races of the season,, achieving his best result in Austin where he finished 12th.

Arrow McLaren SP driver Alexander Rossi

Would the 31-year-old be interested in returning to the fray in the future with McLaren?

"No, honestly, the only attraction was I might get some passes for Austin or Miami or something! No, honestly, that ship for me has sailed," he admitted.

"I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities that I got. I established a huge amount of relationships and lifelong friends from over there, I got to do it as an American.

"I have so much that I want to accomplish in IndyCar and that’s my focus. There’s more stuff that I want to accomplish in the sportscar world in the States, potentially getting back to Le Mans as well. So that’s really where I’m at.

"Obviously, if the opportunity came to do a test in a car or something like that, of course I’d jump at it, because I still believe the cars are head and shoulders above everything else, and they just would be fun to drive.

"But in terms of actively putting pressure on or trying to get back into that side of things, it’s not where I’m at and where I want to be focusing my attention."

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