Andretti to get his McLaren ‘bucket list’ test in Austin
Mario Andretti will step back into an F1 car for the first time in 40 years after Zak Brown offered him a drive of a McLaren.
During perhaps the most chaotic Martin Brundle gridwalk ever before the Miami Grand Prix, there was a heartwarming moment that occurred in one of the only conventional interviews of the segment.
As he began his walk, Brundle walked up to a trio of motorsport heavy hitters in Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi and McLaren team boss Zak Brown.
During the conversation, Brundle asked Andretti if he fancied having a go in one of the modern F1 cars and the 82-year-old said it was on his bucket list.
“Of course!” replied Andretti. “[I] always have a bit of an itch to scratch.
“I’ll get in it, if they allow me. It’s been on my bucket list.”
Brown, who was stood nearby, then interjected and offered Andretti his first drive since the 1982 Caesars Palace Grand Prix.
“I’ve always wanted Mario Andretti to drive for me. So you know what? I think we give it a go [at the United States Grand Prix] in Austin.
“But we’re going to have to figure out some sort of bet, because that’s what I do with my drivers. Let’s give it a go. Austin, you’re in!”
The McLaren boss later tweeted confirming his offer was genuine and that Andretti would be in the McLaren at the US Grand Prix in October.
Honoured to stand between @MarioAndretti and @emmofittipaldi on the grid in Miami. Two world champions and legends of our sport.
Struck a deal with Mario to tick something off his bucket list – he'll be driving a previous @McLarenF1 race car at this year's US GP in Austin 👊 pic.twitter.com/FWzEzNzmvE
— Zak Brown (@ZBrownCEO) May 10, 2022
Brown appears to enjoy a close relationship with the Andretti family and has been one of the most vocal supporters of their speculated arrival in the sport.
In February, he accused other team principals who had not been as supportive as being “short-sighted”.
The McLaren CEO told Motorsport.com: “I think Andretti as a name, as a highly credible racing team, and knowing who his backers are and who he is, they will no doubt help us grow the sport in North America.
“I think the teams that may not support another team are being short-sighted.
“Are we trying to grow the sport? Or are we doing what racing teams have a bad tendency to do, which is think about today and not the future?
“I know who his financial backers are and they are exactly the type of investors you would want in motorsport.
“Also, you can only have 12 teams on the grid. So once you have 12, you are really in a situation where the only way to enter the sport is to acquire. So I think it will also further enhance the value of all the teams.
“Again, I think it’s short-sighted to not want other credible teams to come in because of dilution.”
McLaren need to bounce back from Miami
McLaren came away from Miami with no points, so they need to get back on track in Barcelona.