McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran has apologized to Fernando Alonso, describing the McLaren team’s failure to qualify for this year’s Indianapolis 500 as “the most painful experience” he has had in racing.
Alonso was bumped by Kyle Kaiser who made the final run in Sunday’s Last Row Shootout, delivering a shock result for the two-time Indy 500 champions on their return to the race. Speaking alongside Alonso on Sunday evening, de Ferran apologized to many different stakeholders as well as to the Spaniard – who is chasing the Triple Crown – and says the team didn’t provide him with a good enough car.
“This has been a very emotional and difficult experience, not only for me but for the whole team,” de Ferran said. “I want to take this opportunity to apologize and thank the fans, not only here in the U.S. but globally, who have been following our progress. I read a lot of nice things and some great messages all over the place. So thank you, and I’m sorry we won’t be in the Indy 500.
“I want to also apologize to and thank our team. The guys been have been working for several months, and particularly this last month or so have been a tremendous effort, and to try to come here and do the best we can, and they’ve worked all hours in the day, and I guess that was one of the main messages I had for the whole crew there. This is a very difficult sport. We certainly didn’t underestimate the challenge. We knew this was going to be a tremendously hard challenge. I’ve been here before. I’ve seen some incredible people not make the race. So we were certainly very aware of how difficult this was going to be.
“I want to apologize to and thank our partners who have been fantastic, and incredibly supportive through this journey. I thank also the whole IndyCar community, frankly, who welcomed us with open arms. All the way from the officials, safety people, all the other teams, everyone in and around IndyCar, it was nothing but a warm feeling and a lot of support.
“Last but not least, I want to thank this man here on my left, who – and I want to apologize to you, as well, because we didn’t give you a car that was fast enough. You drove like the champion that we know you are.
“Particularly these last three days have been incredibly tense and very difficult, and we couldn’t have asked anything more from you, Fernando. So I’m sorry, man. You’re an amazing driver. In my 35 years of racing, actually a few more, this is the most painful experience I’ve ever had.
“There’s a mixture of emotions going on inside of me, but we are racers. We respect this place. This is one of the toughest challenges in racing. I want to come back tomorrow. I want to fight. I want to come back tomorrow and fight. This is incredibly painful.”
de Ferran says McLaren has learned a number of lessons that it will apply if returns to the Indy 500 in future.
“We’re very humble about everything that went on over here, and I think at this time I just want to say that we did learn a lot of lessons,” he said. “We have to really look inwards and look at everything that we learned, cement those lessons and move forward. I consider myself a racer, a fighter. I want to apply those lessons, starting tomorrow.”