By: Tanner Watkins
August 9, 2019 | 8:00 AM
For the first time since 1979, McLaren Racing will compete as a full-time participant in IndyCar. This morning, the organization announced its plans to go all-in on American open-wheel racing for 2020 and beyond.
In McLaren’s venture to full-time IndyCar participation, the team will merge with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to field two cars – Chevrolet-powered – on the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series grid.
The new team will be named Arrow McLaren Racing SP, reflecting the union between McLaren and SPM co-founders Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson – who will remain in their current roles.
“I’m extremely proud of the team that Ric and I have built and that a legendary brand like McLaren Racing has decided to partner with us to form Arrow McLaren Racing SP to continue our march to the top of IndyCar,” added Schmidt.
“Arrow is a tremendous partner which has been integral to our growth as a team since 2015 and to the creation of this new partnership. The combined technical resources and commercial opportunities both McLaren and Arrow bring to the table provide a winning combination.”
In this arrangement, McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran will lead the IndyCar program with the existing SPM infrastructure steadying the team’s overall operations. McLaren will pair SPM’s experience in IndyCar with their own technical expertise, while also adding their own marketing and commercial consulting to elevate the brand.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown has shown his interest in IndyCar for some time now, and it is clear that the team decided to fight in the face of adversity following this year’s Indianapolis 500.
“This (partnership) provides McLaren with the right synergy as a strategic partner for our return to (IndyCar),” said Brown on Friday. “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.
“I’m absolutely delighted that we will expand our relationship with Arrow Electronics across both F1 and IndyCar, while renewing our long affinity with Chevrolet as our engine partner. McLaren and Chevrolet have a special history together in North America and it is fitting they are part of our full-time return to IndyCar.
“We come to IndyCar in full respect of the sport, our competitors, the fans and the task ahead. At our core, we at McLaren are racers and where there’s competition that puts us to the test, we will race. The NTT IndyCar Series provides such a challenge.”
With McLaren essentially meshing to become one team with Arrow SPM, there will be some interesting decisions made regarding the two drivers who will fill the Chevy-powered seats.
In late 2017, it was reported that James Hinchcliffe had signed a multi-year extension with Schmidt Peterson while rookie Marcus Ericsson’s contract runs out at the end of this season.
In recent months, Arrow SPM had shown interest in Harding Steinbrenner Racing rookie Colton Herta, and McLaren will surely bring a shortlist of drivers to consider before the process is complete. RACER’s Chris Medland even reported this morning that the team would consider a third car for two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso.
Regardless of the outcome, one thing is for certain: More excitement is on the horizon for IndyCar, and 2020 is going to keep that train of momentum rolling.
Stay tuned for updates on this matter via Open-Wheels.com.
Header image by Tanner Watkins/Open-Wheels.com.