Back in May of this year, we reported that McLaren might field a full-time IndyCar entry for 2019, following a strong run at the 2017 Indy 500 with Fernando Alonso. Then in August, when Alonso announced he was quitting F1 after the close of this season, we speculated that he might decide to compete in IndyCar full-time. That won't be the case, at least not for 2019.
that McLaren team boss Zak Brown made the announcement today in a press conference before this weekend's US Grand Prix. "We've taken the decision to not compete on a full-time basis [in IndyCar] in 2019," Brown said. "We're simply not ready yet and are focused on Formula 1, so we won’t be doing that in 2019. We do have the desire, as we've mentioned before, in the near future."
Last year, Brown told our Marshall Pruett that McLaren wouldn't enter IndyCar until it started winning again in F1. Despite a switch away from unreliable Honda engines to Renault power this year, McLaren hasn't won a Formula 1 race yet this season. McLaren's best finish this year came courtesy of Alonso, who took home fifth at the season opener in Australia. Currently, McLaren sits sixth in the constructor's championship.
With his schedule now clear of F1 obligations, Brown says that Alonso is seriously considering running the Indy 500 once again. It's the only race he needs to win to achieve his goal of completing the "Triple Crown" of motorsports, alongside his victories at the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans 24 Hours, which Alonso won as a rookie driving for Toyota this year.
"As far as the Indy 500 is concerned, it’s something that remains of interest to us," Brown told reporters. "That’ll be a decision that ultimately we take in the off-season, and it’s something Fernando would like to do. Right now, we’re still focused on Formula 1, and until we get a little bit of fresh air, we’ll remain focused on that."
McLaren sought out a partnership with an existing team for its IndyCar entry. Racer reports McLaren talked to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing, and Andretti Autosport, which it partnered with for its 2017 Indy 500 entry and which was looking like the most likely choice.
So while there's a very good chance we'll see McLaren and Alonso together at Indy next May, a full IndyCar effort from the UK team will have to wait until at least 2020.