The NTT IndyCar Series is a buzz with whispers that McLaren Racing will enter the sport full time in 2020. It has been reported in the US on Monday morning that representatives from Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports were guests of the McLaren Formula One team at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
This report comes after Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team co owner Sam Schmidt confirmed that his team have held exploratory talks with McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown about a partnership in the NTT IndyCar Series from next season.
There are a number of hurdles to overcome before such a move comes to fruition. The first sticking point is the fact that Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have a year to run on their engine contract with Honda and Honda are not keen on supplying engines to McLaren following the 2017 Indianapolis 500.
McLaren Racing had Honda power in Formula One which did not work out well for the team however the Honda IndyCar and Formula One programmes are completely separate from each other. The Honda Formula One programme is run out of Japan and Milton Keynes however the IndyCar Series programme is run by Honda Performance Development in the US.
James Hinchcliffe has a year to run on his contract with SPM and this partnership looks set to continue onto the future given the fact that the Mayor of HinchTown is extremely marketable to Honda.
McLaren Racing ran Chevrolet engines during their failed bid to qualify for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 however with Honda they could partner with McLaren given the fact that Fernando Alonso will not be a part of any full time NTT IndyCar Series programme with McLaren with the team saying he is free to pursue the Indianapolis 500 with another team.
Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have a technical partnership with Meyer Shank Racing running Jack Harvey in the No.60 AutoNation Sirius XM Honda and Paddock Eye understands that Michael Shank and team co owner Jim Meyer, the CEO of Sirius XM are considering entering the NTT IndyCar Series full time in 2020 with at least one full time car for Jack Harvey.
If Meyer Shank Racing enter the series full time it would free up a spot on the SPM roster for a potential McLaren partnership. Paddock Eye understands that McLaren are looking to run a second car full time.
It is understood that the McLaren board are extremely keen to enter the NTT IndyCar Series full time as soon as possible as they wish to expand their motor racing portfolio.
The company now has Andreas Seidl as Team Principal of the Formula One team who had a strong race in Hungary on Sunday where both Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris finished the race in the points meaning the team are currently in fourth place in the constructors championship on 82 points.
The Woking based outfit are well ahead of fifth placed Scuderia Toro Rosso who have 43 points.