The announcement of the newest IndyCar team for the 2019 season, Harding-Steinbrenner (HSR) powered by Chevrolet, has created more questions than answers in terms of McLaren’s IndyCar future. Details around the announcement of team HSR, and McLaren’s IndyCar future has been very vague and details are now more unclear than what it ever has been after this recent announcement.
HSR is set to forge a technical alliance with Andretti Autosport, powered by Honda. Exact details of this partnership weren’t disclosed at the team announcement but the gist seems to be that Andretti will lease dampers to HSR, share chassis development data and last but not least also subcontract engineers to the new team.
The biggest question that was raised by this announcement is if this structure lays the groundwork for what a potential McLaren-Andretti-Chevrolet partnership might look like?
Dealings around McLaren becoming a part of IndyCar have been messy and the fact that a bunch of high powered businessmen and team owners are at the forefront of negotiations doesn’t help, there are too many egos involved at this point in time for the scenario to play out seamlessly.
Another unanswered question relates to the future of McLaren F1 driver, Fernando Alonso. Alonso recently announced that he won’t be driving on the F1 circuit in 2019. Will Alonso become a full-time IndyCar driver? Will he only looks to be a driver for the Indy 500? Does Alonso want to opt for NASCAR instead? The only thing that is safe to assume is that Alonso will want to take part in the 103rd running of the Indy 500 in May 2019. Alonso is seeking to become only the second driver in history to complete the “triple crown” of racing. The “triple crown” consists of the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, the 24 hour Le Mans and the Indy 500. Alonso won the 24 hour Le Mans this year with Toyota and he is focused on adding the Indy 500 to his already impressive resume.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown seems very interested in entering the IndyCar market, but the big question on everyone’s lips is why? Another question that remains unanswered is why would the McLaren board be open to foot the bill for a new venture when they are struggling in F1? In a realistic world, most would expect them to right their F1 ship first before expanding their operations to IndyCar.
The questions don’t end there. For how long will Michael Andretti wait for answers from McLaren? Honda has also reportedly ruled out an alliance with McLaren, Alonso and Honda have a bad history and he currently drives for Honda rival, Toyota, in WEC. The alliances and relationships that need to be forged in order for McLaren to become a part of IndyCar seems complicated, but IndyCar doesn’t seem to see a conflict of interest so has the groundwork been laid for McLaren’s entry?
It seems as if the only thing that remains to be done is for either Alonso or Brown to pull the trigger and actively pursue this much-discussed deal.
Andretti has remained mum on the details of discussions, COO of Andretti, Rob Edwards, has been asked about the deal on numerous occasions but his answers seem to be ever changing and he maintains that the whole thing is very dynamic and that it continues to be dynamic moving forward.
One thing is for sure, anything could happen as this story unfolds before the start of the 2019 IndyCar season. Whether McLaren joins IndyCar or not it will be just as exciting to follow Alonso’s journey and his quest to join the history books as a triple crown champion at the 2019 Indy 500.