By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
AUSTIN, Texas – McLaren Racing will not be fielding a full-time entry in the Verizon IndyCar Series for the 2019 season, but remains keen on the potential of a return in the Indianapolis 500.
The confirmation came from McLaren CEO Zak Brown during Friday’s FIA press conference for the United States Grand Prix at the Circuit of the Americas.
“We’ve taken the decision to not compete on a full-time basis in 2019,” Brown said. “We’re simply not ready yet and very focused on Formula 1. So we won’t be doing that in 2019. We do have a desire to do it, as I’ve mentioned before, in the near future.”
Speculation and possibilities ran constant since the Woking-based squad collaborated with IndyCar team owner Michael Andretti to field the McLaren Andretti Honda entry for F1 pilot Fernando Alonso for the 2017 Indianapolis 500. The two-time F1 champion’s debut at the 2.5-mile superspeedway was nothing short of stout, qualifying fifth and leading 27 laps before an engine failure with 21 laps to go cost him an opportunity at victory.
While it is well known that Alonso tested an Indy car in conjunction with Andretti Autosport at Barber Motorsports Park in September, he has still yet to confirm his own future when he departs F1 at the end of the season.
A two-time winner of the Monaco Grand Prix and victory at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, Alonso needs only an Indy 500 victory to capture the ‘Triple Crown’ and join the legendary Graham Hill as the only drivers to ever accomplish the historic feat.
For McLaren, who have an illustrious history in American open wheel racing in their own right, the goal now turns towards another potential run at INDYCAR’s crown jewel event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“As far as the Indy 500 is concerned, it’s something that remains of interest to us,” Brown said.
“That will be a decision that ultimately we take in the off-season. I think it’s something that Fernando would like to do as well, but right now we’re still focused on Formula 1 and until we get a little bit of fresh air we’ll remain focused on that.”