Gil de Ferran, Oliver Askew, McLaren SP, IndyCar, 2020

Brown praises outgoing De Ferran’s role in “best year” for McLaren’s IndyCar team

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McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown praised the role sporting director Gil de Ferran played in uniting the two arms of its new IndyCar operation last year.

De Ferran is leaving McLaren having reached the end of his contract with the team. He arrived in 2018 as part of Brown’s overhaul of McLaren Racing’s management.

Following an unsuccessful single-car entry at the Indianapolis 500 in 2019, McLaren arranged a tie-up with Schmidt Peterson for a two-car, full-season IndyCar programme last year. De Ferran was tasked with merging Sam Schmidt’s operation with a delegation of McLaren employees.

They enjoyed a successful first season together: Patricio O’Ward took fourth in the championship with a trio of second-place race finishes and led over 200 laps. Team mate Oliver Askew (pictured top with De Ferran) placed 19th after missing two races due to illness.

Brown told RaceFans De Ferran’s input was central to McLaren SP’s success. “The team that we’ve ultimately put our resources into has a full set-up, has a team principal – doesn’t go by the team principal name – and the job was to bring along the dozen or so people that we’ve got working at McLaren and integrate them into Arrow McLaren SP,” he explained. “And he did that very well.

Pato O'Ward, McLaren SP, IndyCar, St Petersburg, 2020
O’Ward scored third runner-up finish of 2020 in season finale
“So he spent a year helping SP understand what the McLaren resources are and needs, and he spent a year helping the McLaren people understand IndyCar racing, where they contribute, how IndyCar works, et cetera.”

Brown said the two sides of the operation integrated as planned over the course of 2020. “The intention was always to, once that came together, operate as a single unit,” he said.

“The first year, it was kind of ‘the McLaren guys’, ‘the SP guys’ – it was to spend the year to transition them into each other. So now it’s not a ‘them’ and ‘us’. It’s that we’re a single race team.

“That’s what he’s done and done successfully because we had, as the IndyCar team, the best year we’ve ever had.”

On Tuesday McLaren announced the appointment of Taylor Kiel as the new president of McLaren SP. Kiel has been with Schmidt’s operation since 2007.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 6 comments on “Brown praises outgoing De Ferran’s role in “best year” for McLaren’s IndyCar team”

    1. Oh, I didn’t even know De Ferran was leaving. I guess it’s a job well done, thanks Gil?

      I am sure we will see him around though.

      1. Really surprised they didn’t make big effort to keep him.
        Seems a big loss to me.
        I wonder where he’ll end up next?

    2. Coventry Climax
      21st January 2021, 12:49

      Missed the announcement of him leaving.
      End of contract and no new one, yet the usual praise talk.
      If he was that good, why?
      Is he leaving himself? Was he told to go? Anyone knows the specifics?

      1. Seeing how De Ferran and Brown worked on the f1 side, Gil was Zak’s right arm. Did they fall out?

    3. This leaves article leaves a lot of unanswered questions.

      Knowing @dieterrencken, he’s probably snooping around, preparing the followup already.

    4. Sam said recently that he and Ric still own 100%. Is McLaren’s role similar to Prodrive’s at BAR in 2003? Big sponsor brings in management consultant & technical collaboration as means of chipping away at establishment? Gil’s knowledge of Penske’s operation & running an ALMS team was a great choice. Arrow’s shamefully thin skinned reaction to Hinch’s & Askew’s interviews needs to change though.

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