The next moves in a McLaren-led IndyCar 2025 silly season

When asked if he was interested in signing Josef Newgarden, McLaren's Zak Brown replied: “I think he's a great racing driver. But no, I'm ready for 62!”

With Newgarden now off the market after signing a contract extension with Team Penske, attention turns to McLaren – which was already the busiest team in the driver market this year in the pecking order for the injured David Malukas, hence Brown's “42 drivers” quip – And the future of its formation.

With Malukas down after a pre-season wrist injury that ended up ruling him out of the first four races of the IndyCar season, Callum Ilott raced in the Indy 500 before Theo Pourchaire took over the wheel of that car full-time starting in Detroit. The pair had shared backup duties for Malukas before his dismissal.

So the team already had five drivers across three cars this year, with only Pato Oward signing permanently after 2024 with his massive contract extension coming in part due to Alex Palou's decision not to join the team for this year – a move Palou and McLaren are still embroiled in a battle with. Before the Commercial Court in the United Kingdom.

With two competitive seats alongside O'Ward theoretically up for grabs, you can see why there's so much interest surrounding McLaren.

When asked just before the Indy 500 when McLaren would make a decision on its drivers, Brown told a small group of reporters including the race: “Soon.

“Obviously Alex [Palou] The situation surprised us. David Malukas's position caught us by surprise, and we clearly did not expect this to happen.

“Very early reports were it was him [Malukas] It could be ready for the start of the year.

“And then, of course, Alex is out of contract. I think he's doing a great job. He's had a great Indy so far.” [it then culminated in a solid fourth-place finish]So I really appreciate Alex Rossi.

“It took a while to settle, is David there or not, Callum has his other struggles. Theo was racing in Japan, and by the time we made that decision, was he best suited to prepare for Indy?

“And now it's like 'catch our breath, focus on Indy, and turn our attention to what we're going to do with our driver lineup after this race,' and those conversations will get real quickly.”

“We have a short list, as you can imagine.”

Its current drivers are at the top of that shortlist, so let's start with them.

A third season with Rossi?

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren, IndyCar

Racing expects Rossi to be signed to an extension by McLaren, although track sources have indicated that no agreement has been reached yet.

Rossi had a very strong showing at the Indy 500 a month ago, and has largely remained under the radar as McLaren's most consistent driver in the race this year.

A combination of things beyond his control have robbed him of some very strong race results, and the only complaint in his season so far is that he hasn't qualified well enough, with an average start of 11.83 compared to an average finish of 9.67. .

Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren, Indy 500

Speaking of average finishes, while Rossi is 10 points behind his teammate O'Ward in the championship, Rossi's average finish position is almost a full position higher per race. A season full of errors for O'Ward was only saved by a win at St Pete – inherited after Penske was eliminated from push-to-pass – and a second-place finish at Indy.

While the heights Rossi can reach will not come from a 9.67 qualifying average, his race performance has been solid. In the top 10 at each pub race, where one wheel fell off after a stop, Barber had strong results at Long Beach (which was hit by O'Ward) and Detroit (which was caught in a Will Power crash in turn one).

Rossi is a true under-the-radar star for 2024 so far.

His experience winning the Indy 500 and his status as a safe pair made him a no-brainer for staying, hoping his qualifying performance would be elevated by having a better car under him.

The new kid on the block

Theo Bourchier, Arrow McLaren, IndyCar

In terms of things within his control, Bourchier's year has gone well so far. An impressive 11th place in his debut at Long Beach, where he had never driven an IndyCar before this weekend, was followed by a small dip in IndyGP before a strong 10th place in Detroit – although it came with a crash error with Agustin Canapino .

The important thing for Porchier is to do enough over the last 11 races to convince Brawn, team boss Gavin Ward and McLaren that he is better than his other options such as Ilott.

When asked if it was a one-on-one battle for the third seat between Ilott and Bourchier, Brown said: “Not necessarily.”

Pourchaire hasn't made his debut yet, so there's still a lot to learn. However, as it stands, you have to make him the favorite for the third seat – because if he performs well, he will be fresh in McLaren's memory when they make the decision.

Theo Bourchier, Arrow McLaren, IndyCar

Ilott races in the World Endurance Championship and has only two races and an exhibition event with McLaren to impress.

The Juncos' two years in IndyCar provided plenty of evidence of how good Ilott was, but they were always tempered by the fact that the Juncos were an undersized team unable to battle near the front regularly. Its results have been great in many cases but you have to do some research to understand why.

Bourchier has plenty of time to make this seat his own, and if he doesn't, he'll be the only one to blame. He has a huge opportunity and is already doing well.

Ilott IndyCar Prospects

Callum Ilott, Arrow McLaren, Indy 500

When asked if Ilott was under consideration, Brown gave a simple one-word answer followed by a long silence — suggesting he didn't really feel the need to say much.

“The answer was ‘yes.’” And again, this was Brown speaking ahead of the Indy 500 – saying McLaren was already “very happy with what we’ve seen in street racing and road course” from Ilott and that he was “definitely under consideration.”

It's hard to imagine that IIott stock hasn't risen as a result of its price of 500 shares. The extra run would likely have boosted him in qualifying, but he was nothing short of amazing in the race.

He had to give up his 15th starting position before the race even started due to a problem that turned out to be a jammed ballast. With downforce maxed out on the front wing and the car almost undriveable, he returned to 11th from the back of the pack.

Callum Ilott and Will Stevens, Jotta Porsche, WEC

Unfortunately, he likely won't return to IndyCar for some time now as he focuses on the WEC and its flagship event, the Le Mans 24 Hours.

If McLaren doesn't sign him, I expect a host of other teams will be interested. However, with the chip off his shoulder in IndyCar, Ilott will likely be fine staying in sports car racing – he is already a race winner in the WEC and impressing for the Jota team, which runs a Porsche 963 prototype.

What about Malukas?

David Malukas, Indy 500

Malukas is another name that will be entered into the ridiculous battle of the season once he is cleared to race.

He spent the month of May working with IndyCar's content creation team and interviewing movie stars like Austin Butler and Jodie Comer. But even that's not as good as IndyCar racing.

While fans need to be patient and allow Malukas to recover in time, once he is available, he will start to attract interest.

McLaren said no bridges had been burned and both sides refused to rule out a future reunion. But at the moment it appears that the uncertainty surrounding Malukas and how he will fare after the injury means McLaren is likely to make its decisions on the driver before he is ready to race.

Who else is in the market?

Christian Lundgaard, Rahal Letterman Lanigan, IndyCar

Christian Lundgaard has long been the second name on the ridiculous season buzz list after Newgarden, so he now jumps to number one.

However, some of Rahal's improvements from his current team, combined with the lack of a lot of better options on the table, could mean he stays put.

His stock is high as a series winner who has comfortably outscored his experienced teammates in his two and a few seasons in the series.

He is unlikely to move as McLaren looks set to stay as is, Andretti looks ready, Ganassi seems more likely to downsize from five cars than expand, and Penske is likely to be ready as well.

This covers teams consistently better than Rahal. Meyer Schunk is leading the way with Felix Rosenqvist, but he was poor last season, so how much do you believe he has turned the corner permanently? It's tough.

A spanner may be coming in the works for silly season with Prima. Although the team will be new to the grid in 2025, could its small, single-seater appeal help convince someone like Lundgaard or Ilott to make the move? That question won't be answered until later in the silly season.

Naturally, the seats at the bottom of the grid will come further down the line, so the attention at the moment is on McLaren, Lundgaard and whatever Meyerschank chooses to do.

Tom Blomqvist crashes Mayer Shank and the Indy 500

She dropped rookie signing Tom Blomkvist for two races after a rough start to the year and a mistake on the first lap of the Indy 500. Although she said Blomkvist is still part of Meyerschank's group, it's hard to see him backing down. In that car.

But McLaren and Lundgaard are the next big dominoes to fall, and it won't be long before next year's IndyCar grid takes somewhat tangible shape.


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