McLaren SP not out to copy and paste Team Penske

Team Penske McLaren SP

McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist follows Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden

Gavin Ward says he is not out to create copy and paste of Team Penske now that he has been promoted to the boss of his current employer, McLaren SP.

After six months of ‘gardening leave’, and the latter half of the 2022 season as Director of Trackside Engineering, the Canadian is now ‘Racing Director’ at McLaren SP, following the departure of President Taylor Kiel.

Ward made his name as a race engineer and aerodynamicist at the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team before winning the IndyCar Series as race engineer to Josef Newgarden at Penske.

That squad, Chip Ganassi Racing, and Andretti Autosport are considered IndyCar’s leading teams, although McLaren SP is arguably on the verge of supplanting the latter in the ‘big three’ if it has not already.

Still, there is no desire to mimic Ward’s old team for the sake of it.

“All I would say is, I want to emulate Penske’s results,” McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown told selected media.

“He’s [Roger Penske] won a few Indys and a few championships and a lot of races, so it’s over to Gavin to get into the details of how we’re going to do that, and how Penske has done that, and how close we are or aren’t to that.”

Ward himself added, “Yeah, to me this isn’t really about a copy-paste of Penske, or Red Bull for that matter.

“I came here with a vision of building a dominant racing team that is good to its people, builds its people, takes care of its people, and has a lot of fun doing that; embraces individuality and diversity as part of that.

“So, that’s kind of my dream and I fully believe that’s something we can do here.

“I think it’s going to be a little different to the Penske model.

“They got a lot right and [you] can’t fault results so, for sure, we can learn from them, and I think we can learn from other sporting organisations and racing organisations.

“But, we’re going to do our own thing here. We’re going to do it not just because it’s the way that Penske does it, not just because it’s the way that F1 does it.

“We’re going do things the best way to build a consistently performing and winning racing team.”

McLaren SP will field three entries on a full-time basis in 2023, with Alexander Rossi arriving from Andretti alongside incumbents Pato O’Ward and Felix Rosenqvist.

Despite the increased commitment, it will still run an extra car at the Indianapolis 500 next year, with that seat going to Tony Kanaan, who finished third in the fifth Ganassi entry this year.

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