McLaren would ‘love to’ give America’s ‘Max Verstappen’ equivalent F1 test

Henry Valantine
NASCAR star Kyle Larson may be given an F1 test by McLaren.

Kyle Larson had aimed to perform 'Double Duty' in the United States before the weather got in the way.

McLaren CEO Zak Brown has said he would be “very comfortable” offering American star Kyle Larson an F1 test in future following his stunning Indy 500 debut.

Larson made his IndyCar debut last weekend in the flagship Indianapolis 500 race and earned widespread praise for putting his Arrow McLaren on the second row of the grid, with no prior experience of the series before entering its biggest event.

Zak Brown would ‘love to’ see Kyle Larson try F1 machinery

The 31-year-old had been scheduled to perform ‘Double Duty’ on Sunday in attempting the Indy 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 in Charlotte, North Carolina on the same day – but weather delays in Indianapolis meant he could not travel across in time for his second race of the day.

Larson’s huge success in NASCAR and other categories, from dirt ovals to winning the 2015 edition of the 24 Hours of Daytona, led former Formula 1 driver and current IndyCar star Alexander Rossi to put him “on the same level” as reigning World Champion Max Verstappen for ability.

Brown has not been averse to offering drivers from other disciplines an opportunity to try Formula 1 cars in the past and he believes Larson would be a candidate to do so.

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“I’d love to see him have a go in a Formula 1 car,” Brown said to media at the Indy 500, as per The Race.

“I’ve actually spoken with Kyle about that. I think you would expect me to. I didn’t have to do that to get him to drive for us at Indy.

“But he’s an awesome talent. I think he would do good.

“But clearly he’s a NASCAR driver, always has been, always will be – and you’ve got to be realistic on the growth trajectory you need to be on to be a Formula 1 driver.

“But as far as giving him a go in a Formula 1 car to see, as a little bit of a reward and enjoyment for him, and I think it’s also good for our brand – and I think the NASCAR fans would think it’s cool and I think Formula 1 fans would think it would be cool.

“So I would be very comfortable doing it at the right time.”

While Rossi’s claim of Larson and Verstappen being “on the same level” raised eyebrows among those unaware of Larson and his achievements, the McLaren CEO pointed out that the differences in their racing disciplines make it difficult to compare them exactly.

He did, however, add his belief that the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series champion is among the best drivers in the world.

“I don’t think anyone should get wound up over that,” Brown said of Rossi’s statement, “because to me the difference between NASCAR and Formula 1 is baseball and football.

“Do I think Kyle is as good as you get as a talented racing driver in NASCAR and shown me what he can do in an IndyCar? 100 per cent. He’s as good as you can get.

“Max is as good as you can get at his discipline.

“I don’t think you can compare them other than just say: ‘That’s the best football player in the world and that’s the best baseball player in the world, and that’s one of the best basketball players in the world.’

“So from that standpoint, yes, Kyle is one of the best racing drivers in the world.

“Do I think he can hop in the Red Bull and win the Formula 1 World Championship? No.

“Do I think Max Verstappen could hop in the Hendrick NASCAR and win the NASCAR championship? Probably not.”

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