ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — McLaren will receive engineering support from Carlin Racing in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
McLaren entered Indy in 2017 with Fernando Alonso in a partnership with Andretti Autosport and a Honda engine. McLaren and Honda didn’t part on good terms following the 2017 Formula One season and working with Honda was not an option for McLaren in this May’s race.
McLaren will instead partner with Chevrolet, while second-year IndyCar team Carlin will offer engineering support.
“We’re helping them as a logistical and operational partner on this project,” Trevor Carlin said Saturday. “We have a good relationship already. They get into things at a very deep level. They have massive resource, a big company.”
IndyCar uses spec cars, so Carlin is currently helping McLaren understand what is not allowed in the building and preparation process.
“I’m sure they’ll be pushing the boundaries and ultimately we will benefit from what they learn with Fernando,” Carlin said. “It should be a win-win. We’re giving them a baseline. Hopefully, they’ll take it forward and we’ll piggyback along that journey.”
Carlin will field three cars in the Indy 500 for Max Chilton, rookie Pato O’Ward and Charlie Kimball.
Alonso will be in a one-car effort for McLaren and will drive the No. 66 Chevrolet to honor the No. 66 McLaren that Mark Donohue drove to victory in the 1972 Indy 500 for Team Penske. Donohue and Team Penske used the car number six times, beginning with the first time the team entered the race 50 years ago only because Penske’s preferred car number 6 was already claimed that year by A.J. Foyt.
McLaren won two other Indy 500s with Johnny Rutherford in 1974 and 1976.
IndyCar is courting additional manufacturers and McLaren could have interest in an eventual full-time return to the series
“Look, I think it is generally too early to speculate on what goes beyond the Indianapolis 500 effort,” said Gil de Ferran, sporting director for McLaren Racing. “It’s no secret that we continue to evaluate a deeper involvement with McLaren and IndyCar racing but I have nothing to comment on about that at this point.”
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