McLaren Racing has been exploring a foray into the NTT Data IndyCar Series for a few years now.
It was previously believed McLaren would start up its own IndyCar operation, considering it decided to handle its 2019 Indy 500 project on its own (albeit with technical help from Carlin Racing), but the British outfit may be open to taking over an existing IndyCar team as well.
Speaking to IndyStar, Arrow Schmidt-Petersen Motorsports co-owner Sam Schmidt said McLaren talked to many teams in the paddock about a potential takeover or a partnership between June and December of last year. It seems a deal could not be reached with anyone, however, as they decided to enter this year’s Indy 500 on their own. Schmidt said the team has also now bought all the equipment necessary for running the one-car Indy effort.
Schmidt’s statements shoot down recent rumors that McLaren was in talks with Arrow-SPM about a buyout or partnership. McLaren’s Formula One team announced a partnership with SPM title sponsor Arrow last week and Arrow SPM President Jon Flack has a working history with McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown, fuelling the gossip, but no buyout or partnership has been agreed upon.
“It’s as simple as this,” Schmidt told IndyStar. “We found a bunch of business with McLaren Automotive and did a (business-to-business) deal with the Formula One team (for the Arrow sponsorship). And that’s really as far as it’s gone. Literally, that’s as far as it’s gone. We’re happy with the way things are going.”
McLaren previously said the question of whether it will enter into the NTT Data IndyCar Series is “more of a when, not if.” The team may aim to use Chevrolet power should it enter the series, considering its controversial past with Honda as a powertrain supplier. At the same time, SPM is a Honda team, so the engine supplier could be less of a concern than finding a strong operation it can build off of.