McLaren could hand Formula 1 tests to IndyCar drivers Pato O’Ward and Oliver Askew in the future, according to team CEO Zak Brown.

McLaren will return to IndyCar full-time in 2020 after entering a partnership with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to establish Arrow McLaren SP, which will run two cars through next season.

McLaren announced former Red Bull junior O’Ward and 2019 Indy Lights champion Askew in the seats last week, marking the youngest line-up on the IndyCar grid for next year.

However, it is possible there will be some crossover for the pair into F1 as well, with Brown confirming there was a chance they could feature in some running in the future.

“While the [F1 and IndyCar] projects are separate, they complement each other commercially,” Brown said.

“We don’t have a young driver under contract for 2020, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of those guys in one of our F1 cars around a rookie test.”

McLaren currently has Formula 2 driver Sergio Sette Camara on its books as a junior driver, with the Brazilian completing some in-season testing earlier this year for the team.

Both O'Ward and Askew hit the track for the first time as McLaren drivers earlier this week at Sebring, completing some running with the aeroscreen head protection.

The signing of the duo came at the expense of Schmidt Peterson stalwart James Hinchcliffe, and while Brown was sympathetic to the backlash from fans of the Canadian driver, he hoped the new driver pairing would be welcomed warmly.

“We took the decision knowing there were going to be some unhappy James fans, and there has been, but we also know there are a lot of people that are excited to see the last two Indy Lights champions as­­ the youngest driver line-up,” Brown said.

“I think a lot of people are going to be very excited to see how we perform in St Pete, and at the end of the day we’ve got to do what’s best for the team, and that isn’t necessarily what is going to be the most popular decision.

“For me, what’s most important is that I hope everyone embraces Oliver and Pato, and from what I’ve seen from fan reaction, there are while some disappointed fans, equally a lot of excitement around that driver line-up.”

Additional reporting by Julianne Cerasoli.

 

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