ST. PETERSBURG, Fla – Last month, it was rumored that McLaren could join forces with Carlin for the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. On Saturday, the merger was confirmed.
Trevor Carlin came into the media center on Saturday morning to talk about his new deal with Pato O’Ward and was asked about the potential alliance between he and McLaren for the Month of May. He in turn, confirmed the two sides had a deal.
“I mean, the McLaren program, we’re helping them as logistical and operational partner on this project,” said the team owner. “It’s interesting. Our team is based very close to McLaren in the UK. We have a good relationship already. They’re good guys.
“They get into things at a very deep level. They have massive resource, a big company. Obviously, for them, this is a spec car, so a lot of the things they’d love to do they’re not allowed to do. We’re trying to help them understand what they can and can’t do. I’m sure they’ll be pushing the boundaries. Ultimately we will benefit from what they learn with Fernando (Alonso).
“It should be a win-win. We’re giving them a baseline. Hopefully, they’ll take it forward and we’ll piggyback along that journey.”
The deal came about because both Carlin and McLaren are friends. Both companies reside overseas in England and members of both teams are friends already.
“We’re friends of McLaren,” Carlin continued. “A lot of my friends work there. Mr. Chilton and my business partner is great friends with Zak Brown. Just works. Just connected.”
Bob Fernley of McLaren is running the show for the month of May and he dove deeper into what they’re trying to accomplish. He too confirmed the relationship between the two sides as well.
“I think the first thing to do as McLaren coming into Indy for the first time for some years, we want to build a good base knowledge of what we’re doing,” said Fernley. “We put one chassis over McLaren so we can bring that forward and understand what’s going on. This car will be used for the main IndyCar program. The test chassis that we would use at the two track tests that we do is being built by Carlin in Florida.
“We’re looking at supervising both of them, but fundamentally split the resources in order to make sure we can deliver by the end of March.”
Gil DeFerran will be tied to this again as he works for McLaren. The 2003 Indy 500 champion says that Carlin was always in the cards to join forces with and that it was a match made in heaven.
“I think they were always in the cards,” said the former Indy Car driver. “Obviously as McLaren has known Carlin for many years, in different ways a lot of actual individual personal relationships across the two teams, I think it was a good fit.”
Fernley, said that because of their close relationship, it’s easy for the two sides to work with one another. Their systems are similar.
The reason though that they wanted an alliance was due to the need for a comfort zone. See, when Alonso came over with McLaren in 2017, they joined with Andretti Autosport. That car was technically an extension of AA. This car, well it’s just McLaren.
“We need that little bit of safety blanket,” Fernley explained. “When you come in as a new team, there’s always bits and pieces you have forgotten, haven’t got on top of, you need the guidance. The good thing with Carlin is they’ve gone through it the year before. It gives us a good platform to work with.”
De Ferran, said that the best word to describe their venture is “humility.”
“We don’t know what we don’t know. Having that little bit of experience, somebody that has been running in the series full-time, it’s always welcomed.”
Carlin will bring Max Chilton, Charlie Kimball and O’Ward to team with Alonso for May.