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Brown: New Prototype Regs “Compelling” to McLaren

McLaren continuing to evaluate Le Mans return with new regs, according to Zak Brown…

Photo: McLaren

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

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Pay Driver

    May 14, 2018 at 5:44 am

    They won’t do it until they quit wetting the bed in F1, so don’t hold your breath.

    • AUDITT

      May 14, 2018 at 7:15 am

      McLaren are rapidly expanding their road car business and have brought their GT efforts in-house. We’re long since past the days of McLaren just being an F1 team and Ron Dennis only having eyes for that kind of racing.

      The GTP regs also potentially bring the likes of Ford and Aston on board. Much reduced budgets is the priority, but being able to build cars with a strong family resemblance is also crucial.

      • Pay Driver

        May 14, 2018 at 8:44 am

        Any time they talk about IndyCar they mention how they won’t expand their big-time racing efforts unless they get F1 back where it needs to be. Maybe it’s just an excuse not to do IndyCar, but I really don’t see them taking on another world championship while F1 is still in the midfield.

  2. Haskellb

    May 14, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    After the new LMP1 regs come out the Human Torch said it best, “Flame On.”

  3. paul

    May 14, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    I volunteer to flame against the “Spirit of Le Mans”, which at the moment is to hand Toyota a 2 lap advantage on pit stop times and projected race speed and another lap with stint length limits (add another 1½ laps on actual race speed) while putting to print that that will keep the privateers in the mix, and then have Nadal start the race, because he’s got a lot to with rac… eh, no, but he’s FAMOUS!

    ACO overdoing it rulewise since 1923, lately also sucking up to irrelevant celebrities and deciding before the race that only two cars in a field of 60 can be allowed to have the pace to win. That’s a f****d *p spirit.

    • Haskellb

      May 14, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      So Alonso to win with the second Toyota as back up in case he crashes/has a mechanical.

    • Jenner

      May 14, 2018 at 5:34 pm

      If Lemans is so bad and evil, why are you IMSA fans willing to suck ACO French schong to race at Lemans?

      Don’t like Lemans, don’t watch it. Go watch your circle jerk racing or your gem of a race, Detroit GP. Don’t forget your flack jackets, HAHAHAHA!

      The day will come when Mazda, Acura, Ford, GM, Nissan all pull the plugs on their racing programs again, then you guys can dust off your shitcan DP’s and race them again. HA!

      • Jenner

        May 14, 2018 at 6:43 pm

        I’m just kidding! I love IMSA it’s just I’m really hurt butt about NASCAR sucking balls.

        • Jenner

          May 15, 2018 at 2:33 am

          NOT!!!

          • Jenner

            May 15, 2018 at 7:00 am

            I’m just bi polar I guess….

          • Haskellb

            May 15, 2018 at 11:17 am

            It’s OK Kendall we understand.

          • Andy Flinn

            May 15, 2018 at 4:57 pm

            Jenner, next year (and this year and every year), IMSA cars will be racing IN the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

            Next year, the WEC will be the Friday “warm up act” for IMSA and the DPIs at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

            Enjoy.

  4. el_gordo

    May 14, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    so DPi plus, but not, because they can’t admit IMSA got it right

    • Haskellb

      May 14, 2018 at 3:42 pm

      The new non-hybrid LMP1 cars are using the DPI formula in everything but name.

      • Davy

        May 15, 2018 at 12:16 am

        I wouldn’t be surprised if the Caddy DPi smokes the LMP1s if they take off the air restrictor.

        • Haskellb

          May 15, 2018 at 11:19 am

          Have you seen the BR1? I think they build it with left over Caddy parts.

    • AudiTT

      May 14, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      DPI is P2 with a nose job.

      These GTP’s will look closer to GT500 or late ‘90’s GT1. Hybrid will also be a key component.

      • Anonymous

        May 15, 2018 at 8:01 am

        I really hope that isn’t the case! If they take the “Prototype” out of the top class and basically build a glorified GT1 car, all because a handful of names (Aston Martin, Ferrari, etc) build
        Super-Hyper Cars that only the top 1% of the world population can afford, then why doesn’t the ACO/FIA just reintroduce the GT1 class? And leave LMP1 for Race Car Manufacturers like Oreca and Dallara? If Auto Manufacturers want to race in Endurance Racing then maybe there should be a rule that they can only compete in GT classes? Just a thought!

        • TF110

          May 15, 2018 at 3:46 pm

          You want a GT only championship? There’s numerous ones in Europe. And Pirelli WC in America plus the continental series. Le Mans is not just GT, not nowadays. GTP is fine. People want to see cars that look like something that resembles the brand or has some type of look to it that’s identifiable. DPi doesn’t do it. The Mazda is the closest one and that doesn’t look like any Mazda road car. The new rules might take it a step further. Think of the 911 GT1 ’98 or the Mercedes CLR.

          • Anonymous

            May 15, 2018 at 7:00 pm

            I didn’t mean that I want just GT only championships! If it was possible I’d like championships in which just prototypes (LMP1, LMP2 and DPi) all compete in the same series with no GT cars at all! I’m more concerned that the new regulations will kill top class LMP1 permanently and be replaced with glorified GT cars, just so the Manufacturers can have their “Road resemblance” stuff, if we have to have a lot of road resemblance can the regs allow for cars like VW’s new Pikes Peak machine? That has VW road car styling cues, or at least I think it does.

      • Andy Flinn

        May 15, 2018 at 5:01 pm

        AudiTT, you ignored the heart (engine) transplants in the DPis.

        And if the DPis are just P2s with “nose jobs,” why are the ACO, FIA and WEC afraid to let the DPis race P2s at Le Mans?

  5. Davy

    May 15, 2018 at 12:20 am

    Zack, put your money where your mouth is for once. You don’t do GT3 anymore, your GTE program was vaporware, and your team has destroyed the proud McLaren F1 name in a few short years. Why should anybody believe McLaren will actually get in this new ACO class?

  6. Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the issues.
    It was really informative. Your website is useful.
    Thanks for sharing!

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