Brown meets with IndyCar teams


Taking full advantage of the break between the Monaco and Canadian Grands Prix is Zak Brown, who headed to the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix this weekend to discuss the possibility of McLaren running an IndyCar programme.

The move follows Fernando Alonso's participation in last year's Indy 500, a move which, although ultimately ending in on-track failure, created enormous media and fan interest.

Accompanying Brown was two-time IndyCar champion and Indy 500 winner, Gil de Ferran, who has recently been recruited by the Woking team.

"He's a special advisor," Brown tells the official F1 website of de Ferran's role. "We brought him in, and he reports to me. He's helping with our young drivers, notably with Stoffel and Lando. We're not sure yet why we've not been great with young drivers, other than Lewis. Has it been the drivers or has it been us? Heikki Kovalainen, Kevin Magnussen, Sergio Perez…

"And if we do IndyCar, he knows that place inside out…"

At present Brown is keen to make clear that the interest in IndyCar is merely exploratory, though he is known to have met various team owners as well as representatives of both engine manufacturers.

Indeed, talking to Autoweek, Brown admits that despite the issues with Honda in F1, not to mention the failure that robbed Alonso at Indianapolis, a fresh partnership with the Japanese manufacturer is not out of the question.

"We are very much interested in Chevrolet, just as we are also interested in Honda," he said. "We are listening to what both sides have to say as we continue to explore our options."

"The best person to talk to is Zak, but we are here investigating," de Ferran told Autoweek when asked about the chances of an IndyCar programme. "It's great to be back in Detroit and see a lot of old friends and faces. IndyCar played a big role in my life."

If McLaren should roll-out an IndyCar programme, which could be as early as next year, there is talk that it would bring a "big name" driver, and, of course, one of the biggest names is Fernando Alonso.

In recent weeks the Spaniard has been extremely reticent when asked about his plans for 2019 and though he recently admitted that he didn't miss being at Indianapolis this time around, in the hours that followed Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, which he had described as the biggest bore of his racing career, he made much on social media of comparing a dull F1 race to an entertaining race at Indianapolis.

Though Brown is unwilling to talk about future IndyCar participation, when asked by the official F1 site if allowing Alonso to contest last year's Indy 500 was a bid to keep him on board at a time the team was clearly uncompetitive in F1, he said: "I think a lot of what we've done has kept him. That was never done with that intention and I never even thought he'd want to do it. I threw it out as kind of a joke, more like, 'I'd like to do it but I'd like to do it with you'. So I didn't know where he was going to come out on it at all. Maybe that helped us, but I think it was more the mind-set of our attitude of 'he's a racer, we're racers'.

"So I think that played a big part, but it was never a, 'We'll do this if you do this situation'. I think it was more, 'I like this place, they let me do Indy'... And as for the suggestion that it distracted him from driving, I think he's never driven better."

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Published: 03/06/2018
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