until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


De Ferran leaves McLaren’s IndyCar project

by Jack Benyon
2 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Gil de Ferran will leave his role as sporting director at McLaren after the successful integration of its IndyCar programme with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, the team has confirmed to The Race.

The 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner helped Fernando Alonso to acclimatise to the event during his maiden attempt in 2017, in a McLaren/Andretti Autosport tie-up. Alonso was a frontrunner before an engine issue.

De Ferran then joined McLaren in a full role the following year.

McLaren entered Indy again in 2019 with a Carlin-assisted entry, but Alonso failed to qualify.

At the end of that season McLaren launched a full-time IndyCar programme as it joined up with Schmidt Peterson Motorsport to form Arrow McLaren SP.

De Ferran led the McLaren side of the project, focused on integrating the two teams.

With the Schmidt Peterson employees running things in the US, de Ferran helped a number of McLaren personnel acclimatise while also getting a small UK-based team at McLaren’s factory up to speed with IndyCar racing.

Ntt Indycar Series Firestone Grand Prix Of St Petersburg

It was a unique experience for the team and de Ferran, as while Formula 1 teams operate with a trackside unit and a factory-based group, IndyCar does not do so.

So live telemetry was being fed back from IndyCar races to the de Ferran-led group in the UK, meaning the team had to adapt to how that information was processed and used over a race weekend.

The team scored fourth in the championship with Patricio O’Ward in what was deemed a successful year, with de Ferran playing a key role.

However, reports that de Ferran’s contract has not been renewed are correct.

De Ferran was the 1992 British Formula 3 champion, 2000 and 2001 CART champion and 2003 Indy 500 winner in his driving career.

He has held a range of roles in his post-racing career, including a sporting director role at the BAR/Honda F1 team from 2004 to ’07, and running his own team in sportscars and IndyCar.

Schmidt Peterson’s managing director Taylor Kiel was promoted to president of Arrow McLaren SP earlier this week, although the team underlined that this was unrelated to de Ferran’s departure.

Kiel has had a rapid rise through the ranks at the team and has impressed with his coolness under pressure and ability to make tough decisions.

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