Third Arrow McLaren SP car possible for 2022, definite for 2023

Zak Brown has confirmed the Arrow McLaren SP team will expand to three full-time entries, possibly as soon as next season and definitely for 2023.

Third Arrow McLaren SP car possible for 2022, definite for 2023

The announcement that McLaren Racing will be acquiring a 75% stake in the Arrow McLaren SP team was followed by a press conference with McLaren CEO Zak Brown, AMSP team founder Sam Schmidt, team co-owner Ric Peterson, team president Taylor Kiel and Arrow CEO Mike Long.

In the course of his opening remarks, Brown said: “When you look to invest in a racing team, you look at its leadership, and I think Taylor’s done an outstanding job, so I think our job now is to give him and the team additional resources on and off the track to find another couple of tenths.

“I think the racing team is doing really really well, and hopefully we can help turbocharge and accelerate its growth.

“We would like to run another car in '23 – possibly in '22 if we can find the right combination. We very much look at the way Penske goes racing with all of their cars capable of winning, and that’s what we want to emulate.

“So if we can put that together for 2022, we certainly will, but we’ll definitely put it together for 2023.”

While Pato O’Ward is currently second in the championship, Felix Rosenqvist has struggled on road and street courses this year – until this weekend in Nashville. However, the 29-year-old Swede has a watertight contract and Brown confirmed that both drivers will be at the team in 2022, so any additional drivers would be for an additional entry.

Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Felix Rosenqvist, Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet

Photo by: Chris Jones

“Very happy with Pato and Felix, you’ll see them in our cars next year,” he said. “It’s just about getting the right package together. We have resources so the economics are not a concern. But we want to run three cars that can win races and compete for the championship.

“This is very much a driver championship as much as it is a team [championship] – that’s what makes it so exciting. So we have to make sure that we get the right pilot in the race car, and there’s not a lot of them on the market.

“So we’ve got a very short list, and if we can land someone that we think is capable of winning we’ll go for it in '22; if not, we’ll spend '22 making sure we find the right driver for '23. But we definitely want to be there with regards to '23.”

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Regarding when the team would need to pull the trigger on a third car for 2022, Kiel said: “Certainly the timeline is there. The growth of this sport is putting a lot of pressure on getting the right people, making sure there are people available whenever you expand. So we’d definitely like to get something done sooner rather than later, but what’s most important is that it’s done right and in the right way.

“So we’re not rushing to put anything together – we don’t need to [run a third car], we’d like to.”

Whether he’d be inclined to take on a top Formula 2 driver who has no F1 opportunity, or going with someone who has IndyCar experience, Kiel said: “We’re evaluating people and the programme generally, and the same goes for drivers. There’s good racing drivers all over the world so everything’s on the table. It’s down to us to identify those and make the best call.

“You’ve seen in our history we’ve pulled drivers from DTM, Indy Lights, all over the place, so we evaluate everything to try and find the right people.

“[An IndyCar veteran] can possibly speed up your development. But ultimately we’ve had success with rookies and young drivers in the series so I don’t think we need to be handcuffed to find someone within the paddock.”

On the subject of McLaren’s Formula 1 stars Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo taking part in the Indy 500, Brown replied: “They’d both like to do it, but they’re very focused on Formula 1. I think it’s exciting. The Formula 1 paddock really enjoys IndyCar, I know the IndyCar paddock very much enjoys Formula 1, so I think that’s something unique for our racing teams. Nothing in the immediate future but we’ll see.”

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