McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown has revealed the team attempted to sign former Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya to compete in the 2018 Indianapolis 500.
In December, it was announced Montoya would contest this year's event for McLaren. The Columbian raced 26 times for the team in F1 across 2005 and 2006, taking three wins and four additional podiums.
With Honda powering both McLaren's 2017 F1 car and its Indy 500 attempt, then driver Fernando Alonso was permitted to miss the Monaco Grand Prix to compete Stateside.
For 2018, this was not possible with the team using Renault power units in F1.
At the time, Montoya was racing in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Acura Team Penske, one of the most prolific teams in IndyCar, making it impossible for a deal to be done.
"I tried to get Juan Pablo to race for us in 2018, but he was under contract and wasn’t allowed to race," revealed Brown.
"So this was our second attempt at getting him to compete with us at the Indy 500, and since he was out of contract, we were able to secure his services this time."
Although Brown only joined McLaren in 2016, a decade after the departure of Montoya, the two have prior experience of each other with the Columbian racing for Brown's United Autosports team at the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours.
Brown continued: “We’ve always been a Juan Pablo Montoya fan, I think everybody is. He is probably one of the most naturally talented drivers we have ever seen.
“He obviously has a great history with McLaren. He has had a tremendous amount of success at the Indianapolis 500 in the handful of races he has done, having won it twice.
“He drove for me, with United Autosports, at Le Mans a couple of years ago, so I had a chance to work with him there.
"I have always been friends with him, so when we looked to put forward a third car - we’ve got two younger, less experienced drivers - we wanted someone with more experience, a big name that could win the race, that had McLaren history – and there is only one of those guys!"
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