Alexander Rossi believes the McLaren Group will help ‘bridge the gap’ between the FIA Formula 1 World Championship and the NTT IndyCar Series due to its involvement in both series.
Rossi, who will lose his tag that he has held since 2015 as the last American Formula 1 driver in 2023 when Logan Sargeant makes his debut with the Williams Racing team, has joined the Arrow McLaren IndyCar Team ahead of the 2023 IndyCar season after leaving Andretti Autosport.
Currently CEO Zak Brown has expanded McLaren’s interest in IndyCar since he took over the team, and he bought a majority stake in the Schmidt Peterson team back in 2020. They will expand to three cars for the first time in 2023 with Rossi joining Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist.
McLaren have given three IndyCar stars recent opportunities behind the wheel of Formula 1 cars, with Colton Herta, Álex Palou and O’Ward all testing the MCL35M, with the latter two also getting free practice opportunities in 2022 driving the MCL36.
And Rossi believes McLaren are doing something ‘incredibly special’ by competing in both championships and allowing drivers from IndyCar to taste what it would be like to drive in Formula 1, something he expects to continue and perhaps expand in the coming years.
“Because they have feet on the ground, if you will, in this championship, they will have a very direct understanding of people’s performance,” said Rossi to Racer.com.
“They’ll know the equipment that they’re in, they’ll know the race that they did something special, or they’ll know a qualifying session that they’ll be able to very easily analyse because they’re actively involved.
“It’s a lot harder when you have a Sauber or Alfa Romeo that’s looking at an IndyCar race and looking at a driver and not really knowing was that season that they had a result of incredible driver performance, or was it a result of they got really fortunate in a couple of situations that set them up for a championship contention? It’s harder to know when you’re not involved.
“So I do think that having McLaren and how closely connected the F1 team and IndyCar team is, it’ll definitely bridge that gap. And most likely give guys an opportunity, if it’s deserved, that doesn’t necessarily mean it comes from within the organisation.
“If there’s someone that’s doing something incredibly special, that’s beating all of us, it’s a small world and that news will travel rather quickly.”