McLaren Racing boss Zak Brown says he would “definitely consider” ex-F1 driver Stoffel Vandoorne as a potential candidate to fill Arrow McLaren SP’s third seat in the NTT IndyCar Series.
McLaren announced on Sunday a long-term extension of its commercial partnership with technology firm Arrow Electronics that will see the company continue to support McLaren’s efforts to achieve success in F1 and in IndyCar.
As a reminder, McLaren recently acquired a majority stake in Arrow McLaren SP, an investment that brings the US team under the Woking-based outfit’s management.
The extension of its partnership with Arrow seals the IndyCar team’s opportunity to enter a third car in next year’s championship alongside regular drivers Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist who have both been confirmed for 2022.
However, Brown insists the team’s third car may not appear until mid-season, but once it does it will run as a full-time entry once it enters the field.
“Once we get going on a third car, whenever that is, which won’t be the start of the year, we’ll then run a third car [full-time],” said Brown, quoted by Autosport.
“We’re not going to be in and out, once we go, we’re going.
“For sure, we’ll run a third car in 2023, maybe we’ll get that out at some point in ’22. Whenever that may be, we don’t have that in mind yet.”
Arrow McLaren SP ran a third car at this year’s Indy 500, with Juan Pablo Montoya filling the seat. Next year, Brown could call upon the Columbian’s services once again for Indy, but thereafter the McLaren boss’ priority is to field a driver contracted for the long term.
“A lot of it is driver dependent,” Brown added. “If I can’t get a driver who I think is championship calibre, then we’re not going to put a third car out just for the sake of it.
“I want someone who can be in the car for five years, at least to have that opportunity.
“Juan did a great job at Indy, so I’d like to run him again, but whoever that third driver is, it’s someone that I want to see being in our car for five years.”
Queried on the chances of works Mercedes Formula E driver Vandoorne – who is visiting IndyCar this weekend at Laguna Seca – getting a call, Brown said that the Belgian would “definitely be under consideration”.
“I think he’s a very good racing driver,” said Brown.
Looking ahead at when AMSP’s third car would join the fray, Brown reiterated that the timing of the car’s entrance would be driver dependent.
“It depends on where we are, if we get the driver where we say ‘that’s it, that’s him’ we go, if we’re down to two or three, and we’re not sure, then it could be two or three driver task.
“Kind of like Rahal has done [with its #45 entry]. It depends where we get to on drivers.”
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