McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown talked to Jenna Fryer at the AP about his team missing the 103rd Indianapolis 500 and everything that went into their Month of May from hell. Brown didn’t hold back either, he released some embarrassing details as to what exactly happened with the team and their journey to Indianapolis.
We’ll list everything below but McLaren were woefully underprepared to take on the challenge of the Indianapolis 500. At no point should they ever have started from scratch. McLaren themselves were not capable of handling a project of this size. That’s a preposterous statement to make considering this is McLaren International, these guys used to be the gold standard in F1. Now in 2019, they can’t even piece together and IndyCar team.
List of Embarassments
Forgot The Steering Wheel
Zak Brown fully admitted that the team forgot to secure a steering wheel prior to the IndyCar test at Texas in April. Brown himself had to get a wheel from Cosworth the week prior to ensure the team had a steering wheel. Because of that lack of preparedness they missed the first half of testing. Race cars need a few essential parts, wheels, engine, STEERING WHEEL.
The Car Was The Wrong Color Orange
McLaren purchased a car from Carlin who they had a technical partnership with. When they received the car it was the wrong color of orange. It wasn’t papaya enough for the lads in Woking. After the Texas test it had to be repainted. That was in early April, flashforward to last Wednesday when Alonso crashed and that car was STILL IN THE PAINT BOOTH. A half and hour from the track that same car was still being repainted. More than a month later because the color wasn’t right, McLaren didn’t have a spare at the track for Alonso. That costed them the rest of Wednesday and all of Thursday while they waited for the car to be the right color.
Woes With Carlin
For some reason McLaren partnered with Carlin Racing for the 500 this season. After partnering with powerhouse Andretti Autosport in 2017 they decided to do it themselves this year with a little help from IndyCar upstart Carlin. Brown says after Carlin expanded to three cars they didn’t have the resources to help McLaren. As evidenced by the fact two of Carlin’s three cars joined McLaren on the outside of the field of 33 looking in.
Brown Takes The Blame
Zak said he was so focused on righting the F1 ship that he let the IndyCar program slip. He blamed himself for not assigning Gil de Ferran to the program sooner. McLaren’s focus is F1 so it makes total sense as to why Brown was focused on that but he’s been talking such a big game with their 500/IndyCar program you’d think he would at least know what was going on.
Wrong Tire Sensors
Alonso’s first run in Saturday qualifying was hampered by a rear puncture. The team didn’t know about it because they purchased the wrong tire sensors. How does that even happen?
Metric v. Standard
On Sunday after McLaren went through the garage begging and pleading for help from anyone that would listen they sent Alonso out in morning practice with a brand new setup. Only problem is the car’s ride height was insanely low. Why was that? Because in a frenzied changeover of setup the team miscalculated the conversion between the American’s standard measuring system to the team’s Metric system.
Just to add insult to injury Brown said they had a car capable of going fast enough to get into the field. They just put the wrong gear in the car. The 227.5 gear was in Alonso’s car for the final run instead of the 229. Again, how does this happen?
Zak Brown said he wants to come back, will McLaren let him though? Bigger question, how much longer will Zak be leading McLaren? He’s a great guy to talk to and loves racing but under his tenure McLaren have suffered some massive embarrassments.
Then there’s Alonso. Does he come back to the speedway or does he give up on the triple crown? He doesn’t seem like a guy that can just walk away like that. Chances are he comes back to the speedway but it won’t be in a papaya clad car.
Follow us on Twitter @ApexOff