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Brown rules out McLaren entry in 2018 Indy 500

Fernando Alonso, Zak Brown, McLaren
© XPB 

McLaren executive director Zak Brown has said that the team definitely won't be taking part in next year's Indianapolis 500.

The team put in an entry in last year's race in association with Andretti Autosport. That was in order to allow Fernando Alonso to skip the Monaco Grand Prix and take part in the iconic event.

Despite leading the race on several occasions, Alonso retired 21 laps from the end after his Honda engine failed. Even so, it was a huge success in terms of media and fan response.

"This year was a one-off, crazy idea that turned into a great opportunity," Brown told RACER.com in an exclusive interview this week.

But Alonso has said he has no plans to take part in next year's race. That in turn means that McLaren won't be participating either.

"It's off the table," Brown stated. "It didn't tick all of the boxes. It will be hard to repeat the awareness we created with Fernando.

"We could have gone to Indy next year as just another Indy 500 entry. But that's not McLaren," he explained. "McLaren, we're proud - and when we do things we have to do things the McLaren way.

"If we can't do it right and be a big part of the show, then we don't want to do it."

But Brown doesn't rule out a future US open wheel programme. It could be one that would include the Indy 500 as part of a full season in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

"I'd rather the next time we go – whether that be Indy 500 only or IndyCar – it not be a one-off," he said.

He said that it was a matter of deciding McLaren's priorities. "How much time am I or we prepared to spend on going to Indy?"

"If we take the decision it's Indy only, I would like it to be Indy only for the next 10 years. Buy a car, partner with a team - but we're committing to it long term.

"Given that the Indianapolis 500 is a big percentage of IndyCar's overall awareness, does that give you enough to accomplish what you want to do," mused Brown. "Or do you want to do a full season?

"That's all part of the review process," he concluded.

Brown is also co-founder of the United Autosports sports car racing team. Alonso will be racing for them in next month's Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona. Alongside him will be McLaren's new test and development driver Lando Norris.

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