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Formula 1's CEO Sees Expansion In Digital Platforms

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A McLaren IndyCar team could help the series in many different ways, according to IndyCar CEO Mark Miles.

 

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Representatives led by McLaren CEO Zak Brown and newly-named racing director Gil de Ferran have been considering a McLaren team in the 2019 IndyCar Series season. An announcement regarding that decision is expected in the coming weeks.

 

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According to Miles, McLaren may not be the only new team joining IndyCar in 2019.

 

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“I’m very bullish about where IndyCar is now and will continue to grow,” Miles told Autoweek. “I have high expectations for that. I don’t think McLaren is the only new team we will see next year. I think it’s an even greater expansion than what you are focused on right now.

 

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“I think that at least the motorsports world and the automotive world are waking up to the quality of IndyCar racing, the growth of this series, and are seeing it as a great North American platform for their business objectives.”

 

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One of those new teams that is expected to join the series includes George Michael Steinbrenner, IV, the grandson of the late George Steinbrenner, owner of baseball’s New York Yankees. His father is Hank Steinbrenner, the managing partner of the Yankees. That team would feature young 18-year-old Colton Herta, a star in the Indy Lights Series.

 

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Another area that a McLaren IndyCar team could help the series is with an enhanced international television package. Miles is currently negotiating the international TV rights to its broadcast package after announcing a new three-year domestic television package with NBC and NBCSN earlier this year.

 

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By bringing the internationally-acclaimed McLaren operation to IndyCar with the possibility of one of the world’s most famous drivers, Fernando Alonso, could mean increased television exposure for an international television package for the series.

 

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“All of the people we are talking about distribution of our media rights outside of North America are sophisticated, programmers and sellers of sports rights,” Miles told Autoweek. “They read back to when Alonso first appeared at Barber Motorsports Park more than a year ago that McLaren might return to IndyCar one day. I would say the impression that IndyCar made when more people in Europe paid attention to IndyCar in part because Alonso drove in the Indy 500 was fantastic. It had the desired effect and woke people up to the qualities of IndyCar. That was generally helpful as we approached the market with our media rights.

 

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“We can talk to them about prospective future developments, but you can’t sell what is not done. I think the possibilities are evidence of ongoing growth and I think I are future is bright with outside exposure.”

 

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There remain different options for the IndyCar Series to determine, however, when it comes to an international TV package.

 

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“We still have to decide if we will distribute our rights to one or more intermediaries, or if we sell our rights to international broadcasters,” Miles said. “That decision will be made by the end of this month. That might be with an agency we work with to distribute the rights and they would, with us, go through the much longer process to actually make arrangements with each individual regions and countries with individual broadcasters.”

 

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Miles is currently negotiating the international TV rights to its broadcast package after announcing a new three-year domestic television package with NBC and NBCSN earlier this year. Photo by IndyCar Media

McLaren Technologies makes engine control units on Indy cars and on some high-performance passenger cars in the United States. A move into IndyCar could also help McLaren promote its high-end line of high-performance passenger cars in North America.

 

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Another strong entry to the lineup could also entice a third engine manufacturer to the series, joining Honda and Chevrolet as OEMs in IndyCar.

 

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“All of that is based on the exciting growth of the sport,” Miles said. “It’s all related but we are a bigger platform than we were a few years ago and the racing is even more competitive in terms of teams and drivers and Honda and Chevy going back and forth. We are getting more and more attention, especially in North America as well as Europe and the rest of the world. We will be increasingly attractive to other investors, whether they are team owners or team investors or sponsors or broadcasters.”

 

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Two weeks ago, Verizon IndyCar Series team owner Michael Andretti told Autoweek McLaren needs to make a decision soon if it is going to partner with his operation in order to start expanding the operation. But, is it necessary to have a partner team in IndyCar?

 

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“That is one of the half-dozen major questions Zak has to decide for himself, to determine what the best chance there is,” Miles said. “I’m sure if they are going to run a team in Formula One, they could run a team in IndyCar. They are going to compete in Formula One, they are continuing to do that. For a British-based company to add a team in the United States is no small thing.

 

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“They are sorting through both possibilities, but my guess is partnering, at least in the short-term would be the smoothest, easiest way to break into IndyCar. But I don’t think he has made that decision yet.”

 

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By Bruce Martin


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Source : http://autoweek.com/article/indycar/mclaren-may-not-be-only-new-indycar-team-next-season

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