McLaren are slowly but surely building their way up the grid in Formula 1 after struggling at the back in recent years – they are now a solid midfield team a far cry from their dominating years at the front of the grid. The Woking-based team is now exploring a full-time entry into American single-seater series IndyCar but as a partnership with an existing team.

McLaren partnered with Andretti Racing and ran a car in 2017 piloted by Fernando Alonso at the famed Indy500 race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Spaniard impressed in his first outing at the Brickyard by leading a number of laps before suffering engine trouble with less than 30 laps remaining.

While in 2017 they had no technical input, McLaren returned in 2019 with their own workforce and Chevrolet powered car and Alonso at the helm but failed to qualify for the race, which was a major embarrassment for a team that is held in high regard in motor racing circles. McLaren CEO Zak Brown has always spoken of a desire to enter IndyCar full-time and according to the Indy Star, they could do so in 2020 in partnership with Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsport (SPM).

Jim Ayello of Indy Star reports that Brown has held talks with various programs about forging a partnership to run a full-time campaign in 2020 but the team he has made most progress is with SPM. The IndyCar team’s co-owner Sam Schmidt confirmed the talks between the two teams but revealed that SPM’s contract with Honda that runs into the 2020 season will pose a major stumbling block to their potential partnership owing to their acrimonious relations with the Japanese manufacturer after their three tumultuous years in F1 that ended in 2017.

McLaren IndyCar
Fernando Alonso of Spain, driver of the #29 Chandon Honda drives during Carb day for the 101st Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motorspeedway in Indianapolis, Indiana, May 26, 2017. Chris Graythen/Getty Images

“Again, we have another year on our contract with Honda,” Schmidt told “The company has stated perfectly clear they can’t be associated with (McLaren CEO) Zak Brown or McLaren, so I think that alienates us from that program.”

While Brown admitted they will be happy with Alonso returning to the cockpit, the Spaniard is not said to be keen on running a full season in IndyCar. SPM are said to be keen to sign young sensation Colton Herta from Harding Steinbrenner Racing and Schmidt confirmed they are trying to work a deal but admitted that there are complications as Andretti Racing also has some say in the matter.

“We are very interested in Colton Herta,” Schmidt said. “He is a very talented, young driver. “I’ve heard that they (Harding Steinbrenner Racing) have an option as well as Michael Andretti. Now that the Alexander Rossi contract has been announced, who knows where that goes."

“Right now, we have another year on James Hinchcliffe’s contract. Marcus Ericsson has said numerous times he wants to come back to our team. Right now, we are vetting that out fully to see where that stands for now, because we aren’t running more than two cars next year.”