McLaren Racing announced that Bob Fernley becomes President, McLaren IndyCar, with immediate effect.
Fernley will report directly to Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing. He will lead the McLaren 2019 Indianapolis 500 programme. Fernando Alonso will attempt to secure the Triple Crown of motorsport with the McLaren Racing team. Alonso already tried to win the Indy 500 in 2017. While he led for different periods of time, in the end, the Spaniard retired. Earlier this year he announced that he would not drive in F1 in 2019 while focusing on other projects.
Fernley has wide experience within the world of motorsport. His extensive career portfolio most recently includes a role as Deputy Team Principal at the Force India Formula 1 team. Previously his focus was on North American motorsport, including successful periods in IndyCar.
McLaren Racing plans to run its IndyCar programme as a separate entity to its Formula 1 activities. Fernley will build and lead a technical team. Its entire focus will be on the 2019 Indy 500 entry. Meanwhile, he will help to evaluate the feasibility of a longer-term McLaren involvement in IndyCar.
Zak Brown, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Racing said:
“Bob is a fantastic operator and someone I respect greatly. His experience and leadership will be essential for us on this project. He is particularly talented at putting effective teams together and extracting maximum performance with finite resources. The Indy 500 is no easy race and Bob’s is a key role.”
Bob Fernley, President, McLaren IndyCar said:
“Heading back to The Brickyard will be a very special experience for me and I am proud to be leading this McLaren project and team. The 500 is a hell of a challenge and we have incredibly strong competitors to overcome if we’re to be successful. We will need to prepare well for the month of May and that work starts now.”
Fernley left Force India at the end of August 2018 after being a part of the team for a decade. His departure happened after the Racing Point consortium bought the Silverstone outfit which was on the brink of financial collapse. Former owner Vijay Mallya brought Fernley to Force India in 2008, after buying Spyker.
During his career, Fernley managed different racing teams and owned several squads. After coming to F1 he became deputy team principal in Force India. As Mallya did not attend all races, Fernley got the responsibility to lead the team. The Silverstone outfit is famous for its performance in the past few years while working on a tight budget.
Now Fernley will have to lead a completely different operation while establishing the McLaren project for Indycar. The Woking team froze its plans for a 2019 entry in the series.