McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown is confident putting together a “very experienced team” for its entry to the Indianapolis 500 in May with Fernando Alonso.

McLaren announced in November that it would be returning to the Indy 500 in 2019 with an in-house entry, having partnered with Andretti Autosport for its latest appearance at the race two years ago.

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Ex-Force India Formula 1 deputy chief Bob Fernley has been hired to oversee McLaren’s IndyCar interests, with Brown stressing the importance of building an experienced and knowledgeable team given the pressures of the race.

“Indianapolis is a difficult place that bites if you get it wrong,” Brown said at Autosport International last week. “We’ve seen Rahal not qualify there before, Penske not qualify, Schmidt Peterson last year with [James] Hinchcliffe, so you’ve got to get your baseline right.

“We’re trying to think about winning the race as oppose to not qualifying for it but those are the two different extremes.

“We’ve got Gil de Ferran, who’s won the race a couple of times and ran a team, so he obviously has a wealth of experience. Bob Fernley, who’s responsible for putting it all together, he’s been back at Indy in the good old days, but he was brought in because he’s a really good operator and knows his way around Indy. He’s in charge of making sure we hire all the right people.”

Brown is eager to draw on experience from both within the team’s existing operations and the IndyCar paddock itself, with some of the figures involved in Alonso’s 2017 entry set to work with the Spaniard once again.

“We’ve yet to announce the individuals, but the engineer has won the Indianapolis 500 four times in about the last 15 years. He’s very current,” Brown said.

“We’ve got crew chief that was on Fernando’s car in 2017, Michael [Andretti] was kind enough to let him join us, so we’ve got a very experienced team using some of the hands that we have at McLaren.

“We have people who put their hands up and said they would like to be involved in IndyCar or have been in the past.

“I’m confident it’s going to be very difficult, but I’m also very confident that we are going about it in the right way to give Fernando a chance to win.”

Alonso’s appearance at the Indy 500 will see him bid to become only the second driver in history to complete the ‘triple crown of motorsport’, having previously won both the Monaco Grand Prix and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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