Honda website
Honda website

JULY 21, 1997

Moore for McLaren?

ONE rumor which has been doing the rounds in recent weeks is that 22-year-old Canadian CART racer Greg Moore is on the verge of signing up with the West McLaren Mercedes team for the 1998 season - as team mate to David Coulthard. There have been many rumors in recent months suggesting that Mercedes-Benz wants a German driver at McLaren. Mercedes's sporting boss Norbert Haug says that a German driver is not essential and that it is only the German press which is clamoring for such an arrangement.

What is definite is that McLaren's partners Mercedes and West are tired of not winning races and are demanding success. Dennis knows that the best way to achieve that is to have the best possible package, including experienced drivers. Moore has no experience at all of any European circuits and has never driven F1 cars, although he has proved to be quick in CART in the last two years with the Players-supported Forsythe Racing team. He won his first race at Milwaukee earlier this year and is currently battling Paul Tracy for the CART title. Dennis will be wary of such a move, however, as the last time he tried to take a CART star - Michael Andretti in 1993 - and turn him into a top F1 driver, it was a failure. To take a similar risk - while there are still testing restrictions - might seem to Dennis to be foolhardy.

Having said that Dennis has gone to great lengths in recent months to look for new talent, presumably having concluded that there are none available in the current crop of F1 drivers. Last winter McLaren appointed race engineer David Brown to look out for talented rising stars. Brown visited the Indycar race in Miami in March.

The move would make some sense for Mercedes-Benz which is continuing its marketing push into North America. It also makes sense for F1 as a whole as it would deprive CART of another homegrown rising star and add more interest in F1 in the United States.

Moore visited the Canadian GP in Montreal earlier this year and admitted that he would one day like to be in F1 - but only after he had won the CART title. An offer from McLaren might, however, have changed his mind.

It should also be noted that, despite Haug's comments, Germany does want a star in a German-powered car and with Michael Schumacher refusing to even consider a drive at McLaren and Heinz-Harald Frentzen having a disappointing time at Williams, Ralf Schumacher remains the most likely candidate. Ralf spent the weekend driving a Mercedes sportscar at Spa...