McLaren to make full return to IndyCar in 2020
McLaren Racing, the Formula 1 motor racing team, is to make a full return to the IndyCar Series in 2020 after a 40-year absence from the US circuit.As part of a strategic partnership with existing IndyCar team Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chevrolet, the US car brand owned by General Motors, UK-based McLaren will enter the competition next year, with the team renamed Arrow McLaren Racing SP.
Arrow Electronics, the electronic services provider which is an existing partner of McLaren, will remain title sponsor of the IndyCar team, while Chevrolet will be the engine partner, replacing Honda, which has filled the role since 2006.
McLaren said the “infrastructure of Arrow SPM will underpin the team’s operations,” while the McLaren team will add “technical expertise, commercial experience and marketing strength."
The Formula 1 team last competed full-time in IndyCar in 1979, having won the showpiece Indianapolis 500 in 1974 and 1976.
However, McLaren has been exploring a full-time return to the series since ex-Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso entered the 2017 Indy 500 driving a McLaren-branded Andretti Autosport car.
Alonso returned this year, but failed to qualify for the event competing in a McLaren Racing car fitted with a Chevrolet engine.
McLaren is to field two Chevrolet-powered cars in the 2020 IndyCar Series, with the team’s programme and involvement in Arrow McLaren Racing SP to be led by its sporting director Gil de Ferran. Arrow SPM co-founders Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson will continue in their current roles.
De Ferran said: “IndyCar is a natural fit for McLaren, given our legacy and determination to succeed at the top levels of international motorsport. Our ambition, over time, is to consistently compete for wins and championships. We acknowledge the challenge ahead of us but McLaren is committed to this partnership and to supporting the team as a whole.”
James Hinchcliffe and ex-Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson currently drive for the Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team, but it is not yet known who the drivers for the rebranded outfit will be next year.
Zak Brown, chief executive of McLaren Racing, said: “IndyCar has been part of McLaren since our early years of racing, and the series today provides not only a commercial platform to continue to grow our brand in North America, but competition with some of the best teams in international motorsport. This team provides McLaren with the right synergy as a strategic partner for our return to the sport. We believe together we can help each other achieve our mutual ambitions. Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson have built a solid foundation and we look forward to working together to take the team to the next level.”