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Mario Andretti

Brown strikes deal with Andretti for surprise McLaren drive

A bona-fide motorsport legend on both sides of the Atlantic, Mario Andretti looks set to tick an item off his bucket list with a ride in a McLaren F1 car later this year.

Former World Champion Mario Andretti looks set for a surprise return to the F1 cockpit at the age of 82, if an off-handed remark by McLaren CEO Zak Brown is anything to go by.

Andretti and Brown were speaking to Sky F1 presenter Martin Brundle on the grid before the start of the Miami Grand Prix, and the conversation turned to whether or not Andretti would like to try his hand behind the wheel of a 2022 F1 car.

"Of course!" said Andretti. "Always have a bit of an itch to scratch."

"I'll get in it, if they allow me. It's been on my bucket list."

Brown, who was standing nearby, then interjected: "I've always wanted Mario Andretti to drive for me. So you know what? I think we give it a go [at the United States Grand Prix in] Austin.

"But we're going to have to figure out some sort of bet, because that's what I do with my drivers. Let's give it a go. Austin, you're in!"

Brown later reaffirmed his offer in a Tweet, confirming that Andretti would get behind the wheel of a McLaren F1 race car during the United States Grand Prix weekend.

Andretti's long career in F1 and motorsport

Andretti, who drove in 128 Grands Prix between 1968 and 1982, remains statistically the most successful American driver in F1 history, winning the 1978 world title for Lotus.

After leaving F1 in 1982, Andretti continued competing regularly before finally bowing out of full-time single-seater racing at the age of 54.

The American made further outings in the Le Mans 24 Hours, though, with his last appearance coming at 60 in 2000, and he remains the only person to have won motor races of any kind across five different decades.

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