Ex-Force India deputy chief to run McLaren’s Indy 500 project
Bob Fernley is back. Just months after leaving his role as Deputy Team Principal of Force India, following the F1 team’s takeover led by Lawrence Stroll, Fernley returns to spearhead McLaren’s 2019 Indianapolis 500 effort…
Fernley has more than 40 years of experience working in motorsport, which includes spending time in the United States and a stint in IndyCar. He was Force India’s second in command from 2008, when the former Jordan, Midland and Spyker team was rebranded, until August this year.
McLaren announced plans to return to the Indianapolis 500 next year with Fernando Alonso, as the Spaniard bids to add victory at the famous oval to his wins at the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans 24 Hours and in doing so, become only the second driver after Graham Hill to win the fabled Triple Crown.
McLaren say their IndyCar project is completely separate to their F1 operation. As a result, Fernley has been drafted in to build and lead a technical team that will be purely focused on the iconic race in 2019, while also “helping to evaluate the feasibility of a longer-term McLaren involvement in IndyCar.”
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown 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, so I’m delighted he’s on board.”
Fernley added: “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.”
McLaren have won the Indy 500 three times: once in 1972 supplying a private entry and twice as a works entry, in 1974 and 1976, with Johnny Rutherford.
Alonso, who will leave F1 at the end of the season, will be making his second attempt at the Indianapolis 500, having fallen short in his attempt to win in 2017, despite leading for several periods.