McLaren executive director Zak Brown says the feeling within the company on the FIA and ACO’s new ‘hypercar’ platform is “positive”, with a decision on its involvement likely to come by the end of this year.
The British manufacturer, which has been involved in technical working group meetings to shape the new set of regulations that will debut in the 2020-21 FIA World Endurance Championship season, has been evaluating a return to top-level sports car competition.
Brown, who is also a co-owner in the United Autosports LMP2 squad, was in attendance at last weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans along with McLaren racing director Eric Boullier and McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt for continued discussions.
Details on the regulations were revealed during the ACO’s press conference, confirming the platform’s direction for hypercar and supercar-based prototype designs, which Brown indicated would be a good fit for the brand.
“I think the rules as they’ve laid out are very good,” Brown told Sportscar365. “They aren’t a surprise to as we’ve been very involved for six months.
“In discussions, they’ve listened to what the manufacturers want.
“I think it’s very compelling, and now that it’s official, it gives us something to go back and discuss at the technical and board level.”
McLaren, which claimed overall victory at Le Mans in 1995, has also been evaluating a potential GTE effort, although is understood to now be on the back burner, particularly if a top-class effort is green-lighted.
Brown said a decision would likely come by the end of the year, in order to be ready for the launch season of the new regulations.
“We’ve got to make a decision probably by the end of the year if we want to participate in 2020, but I would say the feeling inside McLaren is positive with the direction that they’re headed,” he said.
“The next step for us is to go, ‘right these are the rules, what more definitions do we need?’
“When we evaluate other racing, we can’t compromise our Formula 1 [program]; it has to be commercially viable, we have to think we can win and be good for our brand.
“If we can tick all four of those boxes, then I think it’s something we’re going to give real strong consideration to if we’re going to be ready for the start of the 2020 season.”
Budgets a Potential Concern
Brown, however, has cautioned the prospects of escalating costs for the new platform, which the FIA and ACO have stated will be “one-quarter” of current LMP1 hybrid budgets.
“You peel back the onion and you start getting into greater levels of details,” Brown said.
“I think directionally it’s the right direction. The biggest thing is that we need to make sure there’s budget containment.
Brown said he ‘assumes’ the targeted budget is €25 million ($30 million) per season, which he feels would be acceptable.
“I don’t think we’d walk at 26 [million], but you can’t let 25 become 30 and then it becomes 35, and the next thing you know in three years you’re at 50. That would be unacceptable,” he said.
Ryan Myrehn & Luke Smith contributed to this report