Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s 2019 Indy 500 bid will be overseen by former Force India deputy team boss Bob Fernley.
Last weekend McLaren announced its return to the famous oval race with Alonso, who attempted to win it in 2017. The Spaniard is leaving F1 at the end of the current season and needs to win the Indy 500 to become just the second driver to ever complete the ‘Triple Crown’, which includes the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans 24 Hours.
The details about McLaren’s entry are still yet to be completely clarified. McLaren CEO Zak Brown refused to elaborate on whether the bid would be done in conjunction with another IndyCar team — Michael Andretti deleted a tweet shortly after the announcement suggesting it would be similar to 2017, when McLaren teamed up with Andretti Autosport and Honda to enter Alonso into the race.
On Thursday, the team revealed who will oversee the operation from the pit wall. That job will fall to Fernley, who left Force India earlier this year after its takeover by the consortium led by Canadian billionaire Lawrence Stroll.
As well as overseeing the participation in the famous race, McLaren’s statement said Fernley will also “build and lead a technical team entirely focused on the 2019 Indy 500, while helping to evaluate the feasibility of a longer-term McLaren involvement in IndyCar.” McLaren has been considering an entry to IndyCar for a while, although Brown has already ruled out this option for 2019.
Speaking about the new appointment, Brown said: “Bob is a fantastic operator and someone I respect greatly. His experience and leadership will be essential for us on this project. He is particularly talented at putting effective teams together and extracting maximum performance with finite resources. The Indy 500 is no easy race and Bob’s is a key role, so I’m delighted he’s on board.”
Fernley’s official title will be president of McLaren IndyCar. He worked in the series in the 1980s for the Ensign team.
“Heading back to The Brickyard will be a very special experience for me and I am proud to be leading this McLaren project and team,” he said. “The 500 is a hell of a challenge and we have incredibly strong competitors to overcome if we’re to be successful. We will need to prepare well for the month of May and that work starts now.”