McLaren executive director Zak Brown says the FIA and ACO’s proposed set of new prototype regulations is “compelling” to the British manufacturer, as discussions continue for a possible Le Mans return.
It comes as a draft version of the ruleset, which will go into effect beginning with the 2020-21 FIA World Endurance Championship season, is expected to be released next month.
Speaking to journalists at last weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, Brown indicated that the so-called “GTP” concept, which would provide significant styling cues from production cars, along with the allure of running in the top class, are two of the key selling points.
“Yeah, the rules as they’re being proposed we find compelling,” he said.
“We would consider running the new whatever they’re going to call it – GTP, Silhouette, LMP1 – I’ve heard various phrases.
“But I think what’s exciting is trying to go to Le Mans to win outright. That’s the highest value for a racing team.”
McLaren is one of at least three current F1 manufactures or automotive sponsors evaluating a potential top-level WEC program, with Ferrari and Aston Martin also currently in discussions, along with Ford and Toyota.
Brown said McLaren has a “long history” of competing in additional forms of motorsport beyond F1.
“Whether that was Can-Am, IndyCar, we’ve won Le Mans, and so that is something with the new regulations coming out for World Endurance [Championship] we’re participating in those meetings and reviewing what that looks like,” he said.
“We’re a fan of the Le Mans brand… So as we look at the budget cap and how do you manage that, looking at additional forms of racing is something that we’re considering.”
When asked how receptive McLaren’s shareholders are to diversifying its motorsports activities, Brown said they “like the idea” as long as it makes sense financially and is a brand-fit.
“Our shareholders are a group of racers, which makes it a lot of fun to work for them,” he said.
“The Indianapolis 500 project last year, when I brought that forward and told them that I thought it was commercially viable and that we would be competitive, it didn’t take them very long to say ‘great idea, let’s go do it’.
“From that standpoint, they’re great to work for.”
Brown: “Great to See” Alonso’s WEC Success
Brown said it was good to see a “big smile” on Alonso’s face after claiming his first victory in his WEC debut earlier this month at Spa.
The Spaniard took the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid to overall honors, making his first major win in five years, dating back to the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix.
“It was great to see he had a great time,” said Brown.
“I think he enjoyed his in lap [on the final pit stop]. He had to drive it like a qualifying lap because whoever came out in the lead for the final pit stop, as has been reported, was going to go on to win. So he knew how close it was.
“He enjoyed it. He likes the cars, he says the cars are extremely quick.
“I think he’s used to now how you have to drive them. It was good to see a big smile on his face.”
When asked if Alonso could be part of McLaren’s WEC effort should the manufacturer formally commit to the new regs, Brown said he’d jump at that opportunity.
“We’d like to have Fernando in our racing team for as long as he wants to drive,” he said.
“I think he’ll continue driving beyond his Formula 1 career, and so if we’re in other forms of motor racing, then of course we’d love to have Fernando in our car.”
Luke Smith contributed to this report