McLaren has announced it will join the fledgling off-road electric racing series Extreme E from 2022 as it furthers its expansion away from F1.
After joining forces with established IndyCar outfit Schmidt Peterson Motorsports to create Arrow McLaren SP, the latest venture is an intriguing decision given the lure of the World Endurance Championship and Extreme E's bigger sibling, Formula E.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown has already confirmed the success of Extreme E so far this year made it an easy decision to jump on board.
But why else has McLaren taken the leap into the series?
Sustainability and Diversity
Extreme E has been created to highlight climate change by racing in areas of the planet impacted most by global warming, using eco-tyres, electric sports utility vehicles and engaging in clean-up operations at the various sites to promote sustainability.
Added to that is the impact of diversity, with one male and one female driver making up the lineups of all teams. With diversity such a strong topic of interest in F1 at the moment, McLaren committing to a series that champions this is a key step.
Brown added that "the importance of sustainability and diversity to McLaren Racing and being able to accelerate that programme" is a crucial component of its involvement.
F1 is at something of a crossroads in technology. The turbo-hybrid power units currently in use are the most efficient engines made but will be 11 seasons old when used for the last time in 2024.
The sport is aiming for a synthetic, sustainable fuel to continue use of internal combustion engines rather than switching to a full electric package.
Whilst Extreme E is fully electric, Brown believes there lessons will be learned that can be transferred to McLaren's F1 project.
"Technically, electrification, I think that is going to be continued to be developed in F1," he added.
"The knowledge and knowhow [in Extreme E], I am sure there will be some technical benefit to that."
Increasing fan base
With McLaren having fingers in the pies of F1, IndyCar and esports, Brown wants to synergise fans from across the various projects into one, core McLaren fanbase that can follow the team's exploits across the globe.
With participation in Extreme E, a sport that will gain new fans that perhaps had previously shunned motorsport due to the environmental impact it has, a fresh supporter base will also provide a boost to McLaren.
"McLaren has a world-class fan base but we have seen things like Netflix, how many new fans are coming into F1 so I think Extreme E gives us a chance to introduce new fans around the world to the McLaren brand," added Brown.
"It might be that they are McLaren Extreme E fans or McLaren IndyCar fans, McLaren F1 fans or McLaren esports fans - hopefully, they just become a McLaren fan."
Of course, the pillar to any racing organisation is the backing from corporate partners because without financial input you can't go racing.
So with all the above factors giving green lights for various aspects of consumer happiness, it is a real buzz card for sponsors to want to be involved with a business that is clearly aware of societal issues.
Describing the inner workings of commercial partners and the relationship with the McLaren Racing portfolio, Brown stated: "Our commercial partners, if you look at our F1 and IndyCar team, Arrow came from IndyCar into our F1 team.
"Darktrace came in recently into our F1 team and have gone across to our IndyCar team because America is important to them. With Arrow, they had America and they want the rest of the world.
"We have great partners that we work closely with around sustainability and diversity and I can see them participating in Extreme E to help amplify and accelerate the sustainability programmes we are doing together.
"It is just an area of having a well-rounded fan base and commercial proposition so our partners come in, and no partner is alike.
"They all have different things they want to get out of their relationship with the McLaren brand.
"This gives us a broader, wider offering so that when partner 'X' wants to get involved because America is important to them, if they want to dial into our sustainability platform or they want to go global, this is just a well-rounded commercial proposition."
McLaren's move into Extreme E appears to be a win-win in every area.
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