McLaren’s Gil De Ferran says that the Indy qualifying weekend has been an ’emotional and difficult’ one, as they failed to get Fernando Alonso into the race.
Alonso wasn’t able to qualify for this weekend’s Indy 500 race after failing to get through the initial qualifying process. With McLaren fielding a one car entry for a one off event this year, their return to the Brickyard has proved unsuccessful as Alonso was knocked out on Sunday during the Bump Day last row shootout.
Alonso’s four lap average was 227.353mph which was enough to get him through at the time of his run. A 227.740mph run from Sage Karam then pushed him down a spot and, while Alonso weathered new Red Bull signing’s Patricio O’Ward, the final runner Kyle Kaiser knocked him out by just 0.019mph.
This means that Alonso & McLaren are now spectators for this Sunday’s race.
“This has been a very emotional and difficult experience, not only for me but for the whole team.” said McLaren’s Sport Director Gil De Ferran. ” I want to take this opportunity to apologise and thank the fans, not only here in the U.S. but globally, who have been following our progress. I want to thank our team: the guys been have been working for several months, and particularly this last month or so have put in a tremendous effort and worked all the hours in the day.”
As for whether McLaren had underestimated the challenge of taking on full-time IndyCar series entrants at one of the toughest events on the calendar, De Ferran said he didn’t think they had: “This is a very difficult sport. We certainly didn’t underestimate it. 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 apologise and thank our partners who have been fantastic, and incredibly supportive through this journey. I thank also the whole IndyCar community, 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.
“I think last but not least, I want to thank Fernando. We didn’t give him a car that was fast enough but he drove like the champion we know he is, particularly these last three days. It has been incredibly tense and very difficult, and we couldn’t have asked anything more from him.
“In my 35 years of racing, this is the most painful experience I’ve ever had but we are racers. We respect this place and it is one of the toughest challenges in racing. This experience will only make us stronger as a team, and we want to come back.”
Fernando Alonso was circumspect afterwards. With his WEC career with Toyota coming to an end next month and his Formula 1 career behind him, the Indy 500 was supposed to be the biggest race of his 2019 calendar. However, he now just has to watch from the sidelines.
“It has been a very long qualifying, nearly 56 hours from yesterday morning. Yesterday, we were 31st instead of 30th. Today, 34th instead of 33rd by a very small margin, and unfortunately, we were not fast enough on both days. I’m disappointed now, obviously it would be nice to be in the race next Sunday.
“I want to thank the team for all the efforts, we kept pushing. We came here to race and to challenge ourselves and we were not quick enough. I congratulate all the other guys that did a better job, and hopefully, we’ll see a nice show next Sunday, with everyone safe. I will be enjoying from the TV, unfortunately.”