McLaren Automotive Motorsport announced yesterday that Rob Bell is set to continue racing with the McLaren brand as a factory driver, after signing a long-term deal which will see him work with the team through the development of the brand new 720S GT3.
DSC understands that Bell, who has been with McLaren since the 2012 season, turned down at least one offer to race with another prominent factory-backed GT3 programme in Europe to continue with the Woking-based British manufacturer.
“It’s been something that’s been talked about for a while, and was really happy with that they had to say when we sat down about the plans going forward. It’s a cracking deal, it’s long term and it’s something I’m very much looking forward to.
“The fact that I’ve seen what’s happened in the past and enjoyed being a part of that, played a role into me continuing,” Bell told DSC. “This seems like a natural progression, I want to carry on. Things are changing, and my role going forward will be more involved and I feel ready for that. I’m happy to have responsibility, and develop new cars.
“I was there at the beginning of the 650S GT3 programme, I was involved in the first tests we did, and I enjoyed that very much. There’s pride there for me when it wins around the world, as it has a bit of my DNA in it. It’s something that I want to go through again, so in that respect it’s great to be a part of the wider plan for McLaren.
“There’s continuity with me coming back, I know what we can improve on and where we’ve done well, and as a result, we should be able to produce a car that’s better than anything we’ve ever done before. I have a lot of experience driving other cars out there, and that will help me I’m sure.”
As part of his role, Bell will be tasked with developing the 720S GT3 and mentoring McLaren’s new batch of development drivers, Jordan Albert, Michael O’Brien, Charlie Fagg and Lewis Proctor, helping them further their careers under the McLaren Automotive Motorsport umbrella.
“One thing I pride myself in, is doing jobs properly, and I’m committing to McLaren, the brand, and I believe in the brand,” he continued. “It’s a great place to be. If that means I mentor a young guy, pass my experience on and he benefits from that and becomes a professional racer for McLaren, then that’s really satisfying. I like promoting young drivers, I want to see them come through the McLaren ranks.”
As for his personal racing programme in 2018, McLaren is yet to determine where and who he will race with while the new product goes through its development and testing phase.