De Ferran on McLaren: ‘Must Understand the Weaknesses’ in Order to Help

The former Champ Car champ and successful businessman will instill his personal philosophy at McLaren.

byJerry Perez|
De Ferran on McLaren: ‘Must Understand the Weaknesses’ in Order to Help

McLaren's new sporting director Gil de Ferran is looking to turn the Woking, England-based outfit around by establishing his own personal self-improvement philosophy at one of Formula 1's most legendary teams.

The former Champ Car champion, Indy 500 winner, and successful motorsports businessman was recently brought in after longtime team boss Eric Boullier stepped down from his role. But will de Ferran's philosophy help a team who has severely underperformed for nearly a decade in the world's most demanding racing championship? He seems to think so.


According to Motorsport, the same process of self-criticism and self-improvement that helped the Brazilian rise through the ranks could help McLaren identify its woes more accurately and therefore fix them more effectively.

"The success I had behind the wheel and any success I have as a businessman, I think came from really trying to understand what my weaknesses were," de Ferran told Motorsport. "I was not afraid to look in the mirror and say, 'I could have done better here, I could have done better there, what do I need to do to improve?'


"I realized very early on in my life that success never comes alone—you don't have success by yourself. Very few people are able to achieve many things in life by themselves, most of them are part of a team."

After losing its grassroots star Lewis Hamilton to Mercedes-AMG, failing to capitalize on the talent of rising star Sergio Perez, F1 veteran Jenson Button, and having a disastrous multi-year relationship with engine supplier Honda, the McLaren organization certainly needs to dig deep within itself to cure whatever disease it suffers from. More importantly, it needs to make sure that its superstar driver Fernando Alonso doesn't flee at the end of the season.


"It's clear to me that the team has a lot of talent," said de Ferran. "Up and down, wherever I look, you see smart guys, guys that have been here for a long time, other guys that are younger and newer, but there's certainly a lot of talent and a lot of brainpower. I think the key area here is communicating, having clarity in certain things, and I think that will help going forward."

Sunday's F1 race at Silverstone was de Ferran's first outing in his new role, and the results appeared to be better than average by the end of the weekend, with Alonso finishing in eighth place after starting 14th, and Vandoorne finishing 11th after starting in 17th.