Zak Brown believes that McLaren's work to put together a "very experienced team" will give Fernando Alonso a good chance at winning the 2019 Indianapolis 500. Alonso will return to the Brickyard in May with McLaren, having made his debut in 2017.
Alonso was contention for the victory two years ago before engine issues forced him to retire. For the race, the team entered in a partnership with full-time IndyCar entry Andretti Autosport and engine manufacturer Honda.
However this time around, it is developing its own team for the race, and will run with Chevrolet engines. With experienced F1 boss Bob Feneley overseeing proceedings, Bown stressed that having a strong team will be key to finding success.
"Indianapolis is a difficult place that bites if you get it wrong,” McLaren CEO Brown said. “We’ve seen Rahal not qualify there before, Penske not qualify, Schmidt Peterson last year with [James] Hinchcliffe, so you’ve got to get your baseline right.
“We’re trying to think about winning the race as oppose to not qualifying for it but those are the two different extremes. We’ve got Gil de Ferran, who’s won the race a couple of times and ran a team, so he obviously has a wealth of experience.
"Bob Fernley, who’s responsible for putting it all together, he’s been back at Indy in the good old days. He was brought in because he’s a really good operator and knows his way around Indy. He’s in charge of making sure we hire all the right people.”
McLaren is yet to identify other key members that will work on McLaren's entry, however Brown hinted at bringing in some experienced IndyCar personnel as well as using people from its own camp.
"We’ve yet to announce the individuals, but the engineer has won the Indianapolis 500 four times in about the last 15 year," Brown continued. "He’s very current. We’ve got crew chief that was on Fernando’s car in 2017, Michael [Andretti] was kind enough to let him join us, so we’ve got a very experienced team using some of the hands that we have at McLaren.
“We have people who put their hands up and said they would like to be involved in IndyCar or have been in the past. I’m confident it’s going to be very difficult, but I’m also very confident that we are going about it in the right way to give Fernando a chance to win.”