McLaren may give drivers from its IndyCar team the opportunity to participate in its two Formula 1 rookie test days, McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has said.
The team announced last week it had formed a new alliance with the Schmidt-Peterson team to field two cars in next year’s IndyCar championship. While it is yet to confirm who will drive for the team next year, Brown said he is open to using the team’s IndyCar drivers in its F1 rookie tests, where teams must field a driver with no more than two F1 race starts.
“We currently have a rookie driver who is under obligation of some rookie tests in Formula 1, and certainly if we feel that one of our IndyCar drivers has a credible chance in Formula 1, then for sure, we would look to put that driver in for some rookie testing,” said Brown.
“I think that’s one of the exciting things about a combined Formula 1 and IndyCar effort is it will create opportunities for drivers, engineers, especially as we look into the budget cap and Formula One will start to change. There will be different ways to deploy our resources.”
Schmidt Peterson’s current drivers are Marcus Ericsson, who as an ex-F1 racer is not eligible to take part in the rookie test, and James Hinchcliffe. According to Schmidt, Hinchcliffe’s close ties with current engine supplier Honda will not prevent him staying at the team when they switch to Chevrolet power next year.
“James has been a great asset to the team for the last five years,” said Schmidt. “He’s a brilliant ambassador for all of our partners.
“It’s one of those unfortunate things, when you do what’s best for the team, but the relationship with Honda Canada and American Honda was direct between James and them, and so we don’t even know – we don’t even know what those details were, what those obligations were.
“We don’t anticipate it having an effect on the final year of his contract as far as we’re concerned, but yeah, we’re excited to have him on our team.”
McLaren will transfer all the equipment it purchased for its unsuccessful attempt at this year’s Indianapolis 500 to Schmidt’s team headquarters. It will run two full-time entries in the series next year, painted McLaren orange, and Schmidt confirmed it will run a third car at Indianapolis.
“There certainly will be a third car in Indy, but I think our priority first and foremost is to position the two cars with identical liveries and every opportunity that those two cars have to win, win races, win the Indy 500, win a championship.
“A third full-time entry is not really on the radar now, but wouldn’t rule it out for sure.”
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