McLaren’s entry to the Indianapolis 500 in 2019 is a “totally different experience” to its most recent effort in the race two years ago, according to the group’s racing CEO, Zak Brown.

McLaren will return to the Indy 500 next month two years on from Fernando Alonso’s impressive debut display at the race that saw him qualify fifth and lead early in the race before a late retirement.

While McLaren effectively took over the fifth car entered by Andretti Autosport for the 2017 race, the team has entered as its own entity this year. It has linked up with Chevrolet as its engine partner, and has put together its own operational team, with some support from Carlin.

As Alonso bids to become only the second driver in motorsport history to accomplish the ‘triple crown’ of winning the Indy 500, Monaco Grand Prix, and 24 Hours of Le Mans, Brown said that it was a different approach for McLaren heading into this year’s ‘500.

“2017 was easy because Michael [Andretti] did the majority of the work and has got a lot of experience. We knew we'd be putting Fernando into a great race car, and it was in a short period of time,” Brown said.

“So this time is a totally different experience. This is a full McLaren effort. We're getting some assistance from Carlin, but that is more operational, giving Fernando some teammates, some data sharing, things of that nature, which is good, because being a one-car team, you can get lost around Indianapolis.

“We need some kind of support and some element of having some teammates come the month of May. So this is a big undertaking.”

Alonso and McLaren completed a private oval test at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this month with its Dallara-Chevrolet Indy car, and will hit the track later this week at the open test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“That's all been prepared and ready, so we need to go through the shakedown process there and then make sure we get both cars dialled in,” Brown said of the upcoming test.

“And to get Fernando back up to speed around Indianapolis. That should take him approximately one lap. That will take us longer as a racing team than one lap, I can assure you of that.

“You've got to have massive respect for the speedway. It can bite you quickly. I've seen some great teams struggle there, so we need to make sure that the two most important days are qualifying and race day.

“So we need to build up to that and not try and have April 24th be qualifying day, because it's not."

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