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Formula 1

McLaren would sign Perez for its IndyCar team

by Jack Benyon
3 min read

McLaren boss Zak Brown has made clear his interest in signing outgoing Racing Point Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez for his team’s IndyCar operation.

Perez announced on Wednesday this week he would be leaving Racing Point, shortly followed by the team’s confirmation that it would sign four-time champion Sebastian Vettel to replace him.

McLaren bought into the existing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports IndyCar team for 2020 creating Arrow McLaren SP, and it has impressed with a pair of relatively inexperienced drivers in ex-Red Bull junior Pato O’Ward and reigning Indy Lights champion Oliver Askew.

Asked if he would be interested in signing Perez for the IndyCar programme, Brown replied: “Yes. I think Checo is an extremely good racecar driver and racer.

“I think it’s unfortunate that he lost his seat because of the two drivers, he’s the higher performing driver but as we know his father doesn’t own the racing team, so when they wanted to bring in Vettel, it was clear that Perez was going to be the guy to go.

“He will probably end up in Formula 1 is my guess, at either Haas or Alfa Romeo, but if he had an interest in IndyCar, I think he’s a great racecar driver and we would definitely be interested in talking to him.”

Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Gateway IndyCar 2020

Perez has previously expressed an interest in the Indianapolis 500, but said this week his priority for now was to stay in F1.

The Arrow McLaren SP partnership has impressed in its first season, with O’Ward currently third in the standings – which would match the team’s best result in its Schmidt era.

The team fielded Fernando Alonso for his third Indianapolis 500 attempt, which was fraught following a practice crash they never really recovered from.

While its running of Alonso in a third car was a one-off, Brown and the team have previously discussed an interest in expanding to a three-car team if the funds could be raised.

Asked about this in relation to signing Perez, Brown said the Mexican would also need to bring sponsorship to the team to secure the seat.

“We need the funding for three cars and at this point we only have the funding for two cars, so we wouldn’t be in a position to sign him today,” added Brown.

“But it would be something that in between the backing he’s historically had and the commercial actively that we’ve got going on and the excitement someone like Sergio would create, we would certainly look to see if could put it together.”

Sergio Perez McLaren Monza 2013

Perez drove for McLaren in the 2013 season alongside Jenson Button, before Brown’s involvement, but moved to what was then Force India when McLaren signed Kevin Magnussen to replace him.

The Arrow McLaren SP team is unique in IndyCar in the sense that a small group of the staff is based in the UK in the McLaren Technology Centre – the team’s F1 base – to provide technical insight and assistance.

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