McLaren the team to watch on driver front for 2015 lineup and beyond

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McLaren’s racing director Eric Boullier said Wednesday all options are on the table in terms of the team’s driver lineup for next year. Which is a nice way of saying, “We’re not not satisfied with our current pair, but we need to see how the driver market evolves.”

In a conference call with reporters Wednesday, Boullier didn’t commit one way or another to either its current lineup of Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen.

“We are lucky to have two drivers who want to commit to us for the future. We have some contractual options we can pick up, so we are not in a rush to decide our future driver line-up,” he said, via the official Formula One website. “We are evaluating and assessing every strategy for the future.”

They may not be in a rush, but they do need to be thinking about maneuvering with the traditional start of F1’s silly season occurring next month in July.

There’s three more Grands Prix – the British, German and Hungarian rounds – in the month of July before the annual summer break.

It is in those three weekends that a clearer picture of McLaren’s 2015 lineup could emerge, depending on their current drivers’ performance output and whether anyone else’s dissatisfaction with their current lot would see them want to move to McLaren.

It’s a fluid situation and one where NBC Sports Group’s F1 insider and pit reporter Will Buxton attempts to analyze the situation on his own blog site.

Of Sebastian Vettel, whose reign of dominance at Red Bull has ended with the new regulations and a car he feels less at ease with, the move to McLaren could be tempting. Less so, according to Buxton, would be a return for Fernando Alonso to the team … not because of his troubled 2007 campaign there, but more because he’s still committed to continuing the drive of pushing Ferrari forward, and Ferrari at Le Mans could well be an attractive prospect down the road.

Of Button, though, Buxton thinks he may be on the way out:

As for Jenson Button, to be honest I’m just not sure he’s enjoying it anymore. This will be one of the hardest seasons Jenson has ever had to endure. The car is not as competitive as he would like, and whereas in years gone-by he and his beloved Dad would shrug their shoulders and look to the future, dear Papa Smurf is sadly no longer here to be the voice of solace and reason. Part of me thinks the joy is quickly fading for Jenson, and if he walks away at the end of the season I would not be at all surprised. Even with Honda coming back, I just don’t know if Jenson will.

Magnussen, who was only brought in at the start of this year, needs time to develop and grow within the team – the same time not afforded to his predecessor Sergio Perez last year. Whether Magnussen would continue with Button or a more lucrative, attractive free agent remains to be seen.

Button, at 34, is the second oldest and most experienced driver on the grid. He’s not quite in a Mark Webber “leave before you’re pushed” situation, but he may get there soon enough.

This seems to be the team to watch this year, because at the moment, the likelihood is greater of an open seat here than at Red Bull or Ferrari. Stay tuned.

IndyCar race weekend doubleheader schedule at IMS road course

IndyCar weekend schedule Indianapolis
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The NTT IndyCar Series will return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the third time this season but with a weekend schedule that will put the action in front of fans for the first time in 2020.

The track’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course will play host to IndyCar and sports cars series over four days. The action will begin Thursday with practice and concluding with an eight-hour race Sunday featuring the Intercontinental GT Challenge and GT World Challenge America.

The NTT IndyCar Series will hold a Friday-Saturday race doubleheader called the Harvest GP presented by GMR.

ENTRY LISTS: Who’s racing IndyCar at IMS this weekend

The name is a nod to the Harvest Classic, which was held Sept. 9, 1916 to help the track stay solvent during World War I. The event had three races of 20, 50 and 100 miles (all won by Johnny Aitken) that was the only racing held outside May at IMS from 1911-93.

A limited crowd of 10,000 will be allowed each day this weekend, and those fans will be the first to experience new video boards, concession stands, restrooms and 5G wireless connectivity.

Here’s the IndyCar weekend schedule for Indianapolis Motor Speedway Harvest GP:

(All times are Eastern)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Thursday, Oct. 1

Noon — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America test session
2:25 p.m. — IndyCar practice (NBC Sports Gold)
6:20 p.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 1 (NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Friday, Oct. 2

10:20 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
1:40 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America practice
3:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 1 (USA Network, NBC Sports Gold)

IndyCar weekend schedule: Saturday, Oct. 3

10:20 a.m. — IndyCar qualifying for Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC Sports Gold)
12:10 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America qualifying
2:30 p.m. — IndyCar Harvest GP, Race 2 (NBC, NBC Sports Gold)
5:30 p.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America pole shootout

IndyCar weekend schedule: Sunday, Oct. 4

10 a.m. — Indianapolis 8 Hour/GT World Challenge America race