Zak Brown’s vision could bring F1 and IndyCar closer than ever, thanks to a combination between his youth-friendly approach and perfect timing while hunting for recruits in the drivers’ market.
The Arrows McLaren SP team has confirmed its line-up for 2020, made up by former Red Bull junior Patricio O’Ward and Oliver Askew, the 2019 Indy Lights champion. According to McLaren’s CEO, both young drivers could be involved in F1 testing.
“While the projects are separate, they complement each other commercially – commented Brown - We don’t have a young driver under contract for 2020. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of those guys in one of our F1 cars around a rookie test."
McLaren had to deal with plenty of heat generated by the James Hinchcliffe controversy, as the Canadian driver – who is very well established in IndyCar – found himself dumped before the season even kicked off. Brown addressed the sudden change as a result of quick changes that do happen in the industry, depending on stakeholders and partnerships.
"We commented he was going to be in the car in 2020, and at the time we made those comments, he was going to be in the car in 2020, but in business, in racing, as you guys all know, things change. Business environments change. There’s lots of stakeholders involved."
The moment when O’Ward left the Red Bull programme literally changed the game, as Brown saw ‘superstar potential’ in the youngster and decided to proceed with the negotiations.
"Pato O’Ward came on the market – he continued- We decided to consult with all the stakeholders, take all the long-range view on what we thought was best for the team. To get Pato and Oliver, two drivers that we think have superstar potential, we thought that was a tough decision but the right decision for the team.”
After putting his faith in an all-new line-up featuring a rookie in F1, Zak Brown decides to go high-risk by repeating himself in IndyCar and he is not even stopping. He aims to go further and gamble on crossovers between the two categories, which makes McLaren the new land of opportunity in motorsport. In the end, more teams with multiple outlets in different categories should provide their drivers with the chances to try new things, to further promote the brand and expand their talents’ horizon.