McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown is headed to Detroit, where the next IndyCar race is taking place, to move his negotiations forward concerning a potential comeback of the British outfit to the sport.
Rumours have been crazily circulating over the past two weeks, since Sports Business Daily reported that McLaren had laid eyes on a full-time return to IndyCar in 2019.
Since the British team sampled the series owing to Fernando Alonso's memorable Indy 500 assault in 2017, McLaren's interest in returning to the American competition as a constructor has never been a secret.
Later on, two-time IndyCar champion and 2003 Indy 500 winner Gil De Ferran rejoined McLaren in the role of 'informal consultant'. Not only would his task involve the training and the development of the team's young talents, but also it would be directly linked with a potential IndyCar project. The Brazilian racer, in fact, had been appointed as Fernando Alonso's mentor for his debut on the historic oval.
Racer's Marshall Pruett reported that Zak Brown and De Ferran will be attending the Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle, but the two are adamant there is no rush to come to a decision.
“Gil and I and a few more McLaren people will be in Detroit meetings,” said the American. "No decision this weekend and no firm timeline."
As it emerged earlier, there would be two IndyCar Series teams who could possibly take care of McLaren's return. The first in line would be Andretti Autosport, which made room for Fernando Alonso last year, and the second would be Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.
Co-owner Bobby Rahal feels Andretti is the favourite thanks to its previous collaboration with McLaren in 2017, which took shape thanks to a series of fortunate circumstances.
“Regarding McLaren, Zak’s obviously a friend, and many people may not know we were asked to run their Indy program last year; we didn’t know who the driver was, but we didn’t have enough people or equipment, so we had to decline" Rahal declared per Racer.
“Obviously, it came out later it would be McLaren with Alonso, and I would have loved to do it, but there’s nothing to really add to it. That was then and this is now. Would we like to be involved with McLaren? Who wouldn’t. But I think that just by having that year of experience together, Andretti’s the favored choice.”
It looks like the upcoming weeks will be crucial for McLaren to further develop its negotiations on what could turn out to be Alonso's next career move.
In fact, there is a small chance the Spaniard could halt his F1 stint in the wake of McLaren's scarcely satisfying results since the beginning of its partnership with Renault. The two-time champion never hid his profound fascination towards returning to the Indy500 or even disputing the entire season to be endowed with a further Triple Crown attempt.
Or else, it may be part of McLaren's strategy to lock down Alonso for one more year by providing him with opportunities outside F1, which worked a year ago.
Moreover, the arrival of Canadian investor Michael Latifi among the McLaren shareholders might be suggesting the formation of a complete IndyCar line-up. In fact, F2 driver Nicholas Latifi does not find himself in the ideal position to earn a Superlicense at the end of the season.
In case he fails to secure a top 5 finish in Formula 2, he will not be able to make the move to the premier class. Hence, IndyCar would stand for the perfect alternative for the junior driver.