McLaren CEO Zak Brown has downplayed the prospect of his team entering IndyCar full-time next year to better prepare for another shot at the Indy 500, although the team could contest individual races before the next edition of the famous race.
Fernando Alonso failed to qualify for this year's race at the Brickyard in a McLaren entry blighted by a string of errors. Some have suggested it was proof McLaren needed to focus properly on a full IndyCar programme to be better prepared for that race in the future.
For much of last year, Brown toyed with the idea of entering the 2019 season, approaching five-time champion Scott Dixon in the process before opting against doing so. Brown is still reluctant to make that step and believes the team needs to better understand the complexities of the 500.
"I think it's highly unlikely we'll be in IndyCar full-time next year," Brown told Racer. "As enthusiastic as I am for IndyCar, given where we are in Formula One, given what we just went through at Indy, I'd like to see us go back to Indy and get that right as a next step instead of totally jumping in. So I think it's highly unlikely we're in IndyCar full-time in 2020."
McLaren did not enter Alonso in any races leading up to this year's Indy 500. The month of May starts with the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, which is run on part of the road course used by Formula One in the 2000s.
Having experienced the setbacks of the previous month, Brown sees some benefit in changing the approach taken.
"Could we do races before Indy next year in preparation? Yeah, that's something we've spoken about.
"So that will be all part of the thinking. Had we got into the show, we missed all the pit stop practice. We were practicing over the months in the race shop and things like that, but Thursday was the pit stop practice day, and we missed that. So we would have gone into Indy cold.
"So one of the things we've discussed, we've started to throw around that we should have done the road race. Even though it wouldn't have taught us anything about the set-up of the car, operationally it was good practice. So definitely not this year, but probably if we go back to Indy, doing a race or two in preparation for Indy feels like good preparation."