Zak Brown reflects on McLaren's 'embarrassing' Indy 500 failure
Brown describes humiliating performance as "biggest low" of his 25-year career in motorsport
By Samuel Johnston
Last Updated: 28/05/19 7:25pm
McLaren CEO Zak Brown has admitted that the team "let down" Fernando Alonso during their "embarrassing" failure to qualify for the Indianapolis 500.
Alonso had arrived at the famous Brickyard Oval aiming to complete motorsport's triple crown, but a series of errors made in the run up to and during the race led to a humiliating early exit on Sunday.
McLaren's head of the Indy 500 operation Bob Fernley was fired just hours later, while Brown revealed on Monday some of the astounding mistakes that had contributed to the failure.
"He (Alonso) was great," Brown told Sky Sports F1. "He's obviously hugely disappointed. We feel like we let him down. Fernando deserved to be in the race. I don't think McLaren deserved to be in the race.
"I thought long and hard about how much do I share with the world, but we were so far off and made so many mistakes and have so many great fans and partners and the racing team, I felt it was important people understood a little bit what went on behind the scenes.
"I think the cover up is always worse than the crime and I wasn't going to cover it up. I think people needed to hear it, as embarrassing as it was."
The issues Brown revealed included a last-minute scramble to secure a steering wheel from a another manufacturer after McLaren's attempts to make their own had failed.
The team also lost valuable testing time due to their spare car being unavailable as it was being repainted the correct shade of orange.
There were also several technical errors that occurred in Indianapolis, most notably when mechanics confused inches and centimetres, leaving the car to scrape and spark when it went out on track for Sunday's qualifying showdown.
"Racing is emotional," Brown reflected. "You have your highs and lows and that was the biggest low I've ever had in my 25 years in motor racing.
"There were red flags for me pretty early on. I'm disappointed I didn't jump on them quicker. Formula 1 is number one priority so I was laser-focused on that and maybe not enough on the Indy project but I thought I had all the right things in place.
"We made a lot of mistakes and mistakes breed more mistakes."
'Fernando was great'
Despite the chaos around him, two-time Formula One world champion Alonso maintained his composure throughout, according to Brown.
The McLaren chief says the team would like to return to the event next year, ideally with Alonso at the wheel.
"He was unbelievably professional," Brown said. "Just like you saw externally how he handled the media and the fans, that's how he was inside the garage.
"We were all frustrated, but I think he knows, being the champion that he is, that if he would have done anything other than be laser-focused on trying to continue to move forward, it would have gotten worse.
"He was great. He's obviously hugely disappointed."