McLaren chief Zak Brown has confirmed that his team are looking at a possible LMP1 project in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) with a view to winning Le Mans again.
During a press gathering in Barcelona, at the Spanish Grand Prix, Brown was asked if WEC was on his company’s radar, he replied, “We would definitely consider it. We are considering it. McLaren has a long history in additional forms of motorsport, whether that was CanAm, IndyCar, we’ve won Le Mans.”
“With the new regulations coming up for World Endurance, we are participating in those meetings, and reviewing what that looks like. We’re a fan of the Le Mans brand.”
“As we look at the [prposed F1] budget cap, and how do you manage that, looking at additional forms of motor racing is something we are considering. The rules as being proposed, we find compelling.”
Sportscar racing is set for a couple of important years as future regulations are formulated, with a push for road relevant prototypes to be factored into the regulations.
Brown explained, “We would consider running the new, whatever they’re going to call it, GTP, LMP1, silhouette – I’ve heard various phrases. What’s exciting is trying to go to Le Mans to win outright. That’s the highest value for a racing team.”
“I believe the WEC has an opportunity to hit the reset button. I’d love them to get back to the Porsche 956 or 962 days, where factory and privateer teams can race together knowing they each have chances of winning.”
“Right now, with the current rules, that’s just not possible. But look at the success of the LMP2 category, where costs are controlled for the benefit of everyone, so I’d like to see that kind of thinking transferred to LMP1.”
“Relative to the increased expense of LMP1, at the current levels of spend [LMP1] is not a 20-times better deal. But put those lessons into an LMP1 car, say for a budget of $20-million, and we’d be very interested.”
“R&D needs to be a benefit for any manufacturer in motorsports, but it’s not the only reason to do it. If it’s not an efficient spend, there’s no point—it should be in proportion to the payback. At end of day, motor racing is a marketing exercise,” added Brown.
The team’s star driver Fernando Alonso signed a deal to do the current WEC Super-Season with Toyota Gazoo Racing and went on to win his debut sportscar race with victory at the season-opening Spa 6-Hours.
Big Question: Is it a good thing for McLaren to branch out into categories other than F1?