McLaren Racing has announced Robert Fernley as their president to lead the 2019 Indianapolis 500 project.

The Woking-based team had announced the intentions to run Fernando Alonso in the 2019 Indy500 event during the Brazil GP as it aims help the Spaniard win the race and thereby secure the Triple Crown after missing out in 2016.

Fernely’s appointment by McLaren showcases its intent to run the IndyCar programme as a separate entity to its Formula 1 activities with the former Force India deputy principal to look after the whole project – which involves building and leading the team.

The appointment of Fernley is with immediate effect as he returns to IndyCar where he has had successful years before his F1 stint. “Heading back to The Brickyard will be a very special experience for me and I am proud to be leading this McLaren project and team.

“The 500 is a hell of a challenge and we have incredibly strong competitors to overcome if we’re to be successful. We will need to prepare well for the month of May and that work starts now,” he said.

He will report to McLaren Racing’s CEO, Zak Brown, who added: “Bob is a fantastic operator and someone I respect greatly. His experience and leadership will be essential for us on this project.

“He is particularly talented at putting effective teams together and extracting maximum performance with finite resources. The Indy 500 is no easy race and Bob’s is a key role, so I’m delighted he’s on board.”

No further details has been released thus far – especially related to the engine the team will use whether Honda or Chevrolet. However, with the past history, it more looks like a Chevrolet-powered car than Honda.

Fernley’s appointment comes with an additional responsibility for him to ‘evaluate the feasibility of a longer-term McLaren involvement in IndyCar’ with the British outfit wanting to run a full season programme in the future.