McLaren Has Many Questions Left To Answer After Indy 500 Debacle
McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said that the team's failure to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 "did nothing to help pave the way for McLaren coming to the 500 or joining the NTT IndyCar Series program as a full-time team -- as has been his expressed desire for many months," according to Jim Ayello of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR. That said, he is still "not ruling it out." What made IndyCar appealing to Brown and McLaren "remains intact." McLaren and its partners "desire a bigger presence in North America," and Brown still "believes McLaren can enjoy success in the series." As a result of the "massive team-wide failure, heads have already begun to roll." Brown "denied that McLaren Indy President Bob Fernley was fired" yesterday, saying that his contract had "simply expired." Regardless, little time was "wasted in making that information public." Meanwhile, Brown said that there were a "lot of things he wishes he could undo." Taking a day and a half to get the backup car prepared following driver Fernando Alonso's Wednesday crash "ranked high among them," especially when the reason the car "wasn't ready was because it was getting a new paint job." Brown also said that he has "regrets about the way the program was constructed as a whole" (INDIANAPOLIS STAR, 5/21).
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE: Brown said that the team was "woefully unprepared and small oversights snowballed into the final result." Brown: "We didn’t deserve to be in the race and it’s our own fault." The AP's Jenna Fryer noted McLaren's budget for this Indy 500 was "strong." Every sponsorship opportunity had been "sold and the venture was a guaranteed commercial success for McLaren." Brown was "somewhat hands-off and focused on the critical rebuild" of the organization's F1 program. He now "laments waiting too long to become heavily involved with the Indy 500 effort." He also "believes he was too slow in assigning" McLaren Sporting Dir Gil de Ferran oversight of the program (AP, 5/20).
MISMATCH: NBCSPORTS.com's Nate Ryan noted Alonso made a "successful Indy 500 debut" in '17 by leading 27 laps in a Honda for Andretti Autosport, which is routinely an Indy 500 "powerhouse." But because its F1 relationship with Honda "ended poorly, McLaren was forced to put Alonso in a Chevrolet this time." That move "limited the team’s options for alliances because Penske, which fields the top Chevys, doesn’t partner with other IndyCar teams." McLaren went with Trevor Carlin’s second-year IndyCar team in part because of the "connections and history of working with Carlin (also founded in England) across myriad European series." Behind the scenes, there were "many whispers in Gasoline Alley about glaring signs that Alonso’s team lacked the necessary anticipation and experience to make the Indy 500" (NBCSPORTS.com, 5/20).