McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown admits his team is in for a “nerve-racking” weekend after missing out on all of Thursday’s practice ahead of Indianapolis 500 qualifying.
Fernando Alonso crashed during Wednesday’s session and McLaren was unable to get its spare chassis ready in time to run on Thursday, leaving the team with plenty to catch up on during Fast Friday. Alonso was back out on track for much of Friday morning, and while Brown accepts his driver making such an error, he says the team should have been more prepared.
“It’s been a tricky month so far,” Brown told NBC Sports Network. “We had an electrical issue on the first day so we didn’t get as much running in as we’d hoped. The car was slow but kind of new, and we were running a lot of downforce on it just to be on the safe side. Then we got going pretty good on the second day, he was happy, and then unfortunately ended up in the fence.
“As Dario (Franchitti) said, there’s those who have been in the fence and those who will be in the fence, so he’s done that. I think he actually felt kind of macho about the whole ‘I hit an Indy wall’!
“Then, yesterday was a struggle. We weren’t ready with our spare car, it wasn’t quite as finished as it should be, quite frankly. Then obviously we were caught out by the rain so that’s made things a bit nerve-racking. We got out this morning and fortunately (ran) the car and feel a lot better now that we’ve been out, but there’s still a long way to go.”
Two separate crews built up the two McLaren cars – one group at its factory in Woking and another at Carlin’s U.S. base in Florida – and Indianapolis is the first time they have all come together as a group. Brown says that contributed to the slow build time on Thursday, and the setback has left him wary of the danger of being bumped from the 33 in qualifying.
“I think that’s what Indianapolis is, especially when you have an accident you’re on the back foot right away,” he said. “The team are very experienced as individuals, we’ve got lots of Indy wins in the team but what we haven’t done is work together as a team.
“So when you have an incident and you’ve got to start running to check over the car, that’s where an experienced team that has done it many times get it done quicker. But we’re keeping our cool. I think everyone’s pleased that this morning went alright, but it’s going to be nerve-racking this weekend.”