McLaren Racing will enter the full 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season in partnership with the current Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports team, which will trade Honda power for Chevrolet and take on the name Arrow McLaren Racing SP.
Competing full-time in North America’s premier open-wheel championship for the first time since 1979, McLaren will pair its technical expertise, commercial experience and marketing skills with the infrastructure of Arrow SPM for the two-car effort.
Arrow SPM co-founders Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson will continue in their current roles while McLaren Racing Sporting Director Gil de Ferran will lead McLaren’s portion of the partnership. De Ferran, winner of five IndyCar events including the 2003 Indianapolis 500, will head a McLaren Racing group independent from the brand’s Formula One operation.
“IndyCar has been part of McLaren since our early years of racing and the series today provides not only a commercial platform to continue to grow our brand in North America, but competition with some of the best teams in international motor sport,” McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said.
Current Arrow SPM drivers James Hinchcliffe and Marcus Ericsson may compete elsewhere in 2020 and beyond, particularly given Hinchcliffe’s alignment with Honda, the manufacturer that powered McLaren in F1 from 2015 to 2017 before a bridge-burning divorce. Felipe Nasr, who recently tested with Arrow SPM at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, previously teamed with Ericsson in Sauber’s F1 team.
“I’m extremely proud of the team that Ric and I have built and that a legendary brand like McLaren Racing has decided to partner with us to form Arrow McLaren Racing SP to continue our march to the top of IndyCar,” said Sam Schmidt. “Arrow is a tremendous partner which has been integral to our growth as a team since 2015 and to the creation of this new partnership. The combined technical resources and commercial opportunities both McLaren and Arrow bring to the table provide a winning combination.”
Beyond the potential of a driver lineup shakeup, Arrow McLaren Racing SP’s use of Chevrolet engines will bring greater balance to the competition between the American brand and its Japanese rival among IndyCar’s top teams, with Team Penske and the Arrow-McLaren combination set to field five cars compared to six full-time Hondas from Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi Racing.
“Chevrolet and McLaren have a storied history of racing together, going back to the mid-1960s,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s U.S. Vice President of Performance and Motorsports. “We have always had tremendous respect for Zak Brown and Gil de Ferran, as well as for Sam Schmidt, Ric Peterson and Mike Long. We are looking forward to partnering with the entire Arrow McLaren Racing SP team as we prepare for the 2020 IndyCar season.”
McLaren’s first non-Indianapolis race in IndyCar with this new team will take place March 15, 2020 at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.