McLaren names Fernley to run Alonso's 2019 Indy 500 bid

Bob Fernley, will evaluate the feasibility of a longer-term McLaren involvement in IndyCar as well as direct Alonso's effort in the 103rd Indy oval classic.

Bob Fernley (right) will be reporting to McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown.   -  Getty Images

Bob Fernley, former deputy team principal at Formula One's Force India, was named Thursday as president of McLaren IndyCar, overseeing F1 star Fernando Alonso's 2019 Indianapolis 500 campaign.

The 37-year-old Spanish racer will try to complete the Triple Crown of Motorsport next May by adding an Indy 500 victory to his wins at the Monaco Grand Prix and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Fernley, who will report to McLaren Racing chief executive Zak Brown, will evaluate the feasibility of a longer-term McLaren involvement in IndyCar as well as direct Alonso's effort in the 103rd Indy oval classic.

“The 500 is a hell of a challenge and we have incredibly strong competitors to overcome if we're to be successful,” Fernley said. “We will need to prepare well for the month of May and that work starts now.”

Two-time F1 champion Alonso made his first try at Indy in 2017, qualifying fifth and leading for 27 laps before an engine failure with 21 laps remaining left him 24th. The Spaniard was named Indy 500 Rookie of the Year for his effort.

“I've made clear for some time my desire to achieve the Triple Crown,” Alonso said earlier this month. “I had an incredible experience at Indianapolis in 2017 and I knew in my heart of hearts I had to go back if the opportunity was there.”

McLaren's IndyCar program will be run separately from its F1 activity.

“Bob is a fantastic operator and someone I respect greatly,” Brown said. “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.”