Fernando Alonso and McLaren competing in the Indy 500 this year was one of the coolest and most unexpected things to happen in motorsport in years. Even cooler was the fact Fernando led several laps and was in contention for victory until his Honda engine, well, Honda’d.
Since that mega month of May, the question we’ve all be wanting to know is whether they’ll be going back. Fernando already confirmed that he won’t be as he wants to focus on the McLaren-Renault partnership in F1 (plus there are those pesky WEC/Le Mans rumours), but what about the team itself?
Although the team is keen to return and reviewed the possibility, executive director Zak Brown has sadly confirmed that the team won’t be at the Brickyard next year. He told Racer:
“It’s off the table [a 2018 entry]. It didn’t tick all of the boxes. It will be hard to repeat the awareness we created with Fernando. We could have gone to Indy next year as just another Indy 500 entry. But that’s not McLaren. McLaren, we’re proud – and when we do things we have to do things the McLaren way.”
According to Brown, the reason McLaren isn’t returning yet is that he wants to commit to it as a multi-year programme and not just another one-off.
“I’d rather the next time we go – whether that be Indy 500 only or IndyCar – it not be a one-off. How much time am I or we prepared to spend on going to Indy?”
“If we take the decision it’s Indy only, I would like it to be Indy only for the next 10 years. Buy a car, partner with a team – but we’re committing to it long term. This year was a one-off, crazy idea that turned into a great opportunity.”
Well, that’s kind of a shame, but it’s good to know that he’s still keen on taking McLaren back to Indy. Perhaps the time will be right when Alonso retires from F1…