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Featured Indy 500: McLaren Reveal Mistakes That Led to Failing to Qualify

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by Paul Jeffrey, May 22, 2019.

  1. Paul Jeffrey

    Paul Jeffrey
    RaceDepartment Editor-in-Chief Staff Premium

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    McLaren IndyCar .jpg
    McLaren CEO Zak Brown has revealed McLaren's shocking lack of preparation on the build-up to their failed Indy 500 qualification bid.


    Having endeavoured to return to the famous American race for the first time since the 1970's, and armed with their star driver Fernando Alonso, many would be forgiven for thinking that qualification for the Indy 500 would be a forgone conclusion - with most turning their attention to the question of if the team can pull off a famous victory. Sadly, reality proved McLaren to be far from up to the job in hand.

    Whilst watching the qualification coverage at home, I just assumed that the McLaren car didn't have quite enough pace to make the top 33 session through the setup on the car and a lack of enough running in advance of qualification coming to a close on Bump Day, however according to Zak Brown, the team apparently made a number of critical and fundamental errors that sabotaged their efforts to appear in 'the greatest spectacle in racing' later this month.

    The issues began before McLaren even arrived at the famous Speedway, with Brown himself having to go out in search of a steering wheel for the Vegas test session earlier in the month - something the team didn't get chance to include when building the car...

    “We didn’t get out until midday, our steering wheel was not done on time, that’s just lack of preparation and project management organizational skills,” Brown said. “That’s where this whole thing fell down, in the project management. Zak Brown should not be digging around for steering wheels.”
    The issues from Vegas were compounded yet further by the car arriving in the wrong shade of McLaren papaya orange, something the team brought up with technical partner Carlin who were set to prepare the spare chassis (and eventually the one Alonso used after crashing his race car on Thursday), an issue that took a month for the small British Carlin squad to rectify - costing McLaren yet more valuable track time at Indy.

    Following Alonso's practice accident, McLaren then had to recover the repainted spare chassis from the Carlin paint shop, causing enough delays that the team would miss further on track running they could scarcely afford at such an important stage of the proceedings.

    However, once back on track it would again be a tale of incredible incompetence from McLaren that prevented them from getting on the front running pace, something that Brown wishes he would have acknowledged and acted upon sooner in the process.

    “I should have been closer to Indy but I could never compromise Formula One,” Brown said. “At 9:01 in the morning when we weren’t on track at the first test, that’s when we failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500. We didn’t ring the fire alarm quick enough because we could have recovered after the first test.

    “I am angry at myself because I was uncomfortable all the way up to the first test and I should have followed my instinct to get more involved.”
    When McLaren failed to lock down a top 30 slot at the end of qualification day on Saturday, the team went about pulling in knowledge and resources from across the paddock in a bid to add more speed to their #66 machine, leading to the team heading out into the all important 'bump day' session with a brand new and untried setup - with one critical mistake:

    “We actually had a 229 (mph) car but we had 227.5 gearing, so we beat ourselves again while we almost made it,” Brown said. “We really did put it all on the line and you could feel the anxiety. There was some real heroism in that. I don’t want the world to think McLaren is a bunch of idiots because while we did have a few, we had some real stars.”

    “I feel an obligation to the fans and sponsors, we let them down. We didn’t fulfill our promise and I think they need more than just an apology, there will be repercussions for those who don’t deserve to work for a great team like McLaren. We will look at what we learned here and the list is a mile long. I hope people appreciate that we go for it, we are racers, and Fernando is a star and we are not quitters. We want to come back.”
    Something of a tale of woe from the famous Formula One team, and plenty of very difficult lessons learnt should they come back for another crack in 2020.

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  2. CreamyCornCob

    CreamyCornCob

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    Yup, saw this a couple days ago.

    * No and or wrong steering wheel (they actually used an F1 wheel during Alonso's cockpit / seat fitting mock up lol, oops forgot to get an indycar wheel)

    * Electrical issues, missed the day
    * Crash car, miss more valuable track time
    * No backup tub
    * Get backup, road course tub and paint it orange
    * McLaren says its the wrong orange, repaint it with the proper papaya orange, miss more track time
    * Unload backup tub from Carlin with paint still 'wet' and not cured
    *** They FORGET to convert metric to inches
    * Last test before the rain, the car is scrapping along the track and throwing sparks everywhere (lol) almost crashing the backup
    * Get setup data from Andretti and Penske, dampers too if my memory's right on that
    * Gearbox WRONGFULLY geared, was suppose to be geared for 229mph, they mistakenly put in 227 gears
    * Alonso is slow and fails to qualify, being beat by some welfare, one car effort, shoe string team on the cheap.

    ** Go home and let the firings begin. Cant recall the name, but this person was fired within hours of Alonso failing to qualify. And more's coming, Zak's swan song plays loud and clear.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
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  3. Koen Verlinde

    Koen Verlinde

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    In normal companies, Zak Brown would have been fired by now.

    For gross incompetence with years of proof to back it up.
     
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  4. Richard Dastardly

    Richard Dastardly

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    What? hell no, the people at the sharp end go first, they're cheaper & can't shift blame.

    How the hell did they get into this mess? this has all the hallmarks of a rush job by a team who have no experience with rush jobs.
     
  5. Ryno917

    Ryno917

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    I don’t want the world to think McLaren is a bunch of idiots because while we did have a few, we had some real stars.

    Wow, some harsh words. True or not, that's surprising to see put out publicly.
     
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  6. Michel Bélisle

    Michel Bélisle
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    Pardon my ignorance but what is the difference between an F1 steering wheel vs an Indycar racing wheel?

    In Indycar, no DRS and no KERS but is there anything else different?
     
  7. Bunkiester

    Bunkiester

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    Can somebody tell me how to spell "Hubris" ?
     
  8. LeSunTzu

    LeSunTzu
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    That is just totally unprofessional from Brown. Ultimately he is responsible for whom he recruits and what they do.
     
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  9. ncj195r

    ncj195r

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    Is that Ron Dennis i can hear laughing ?
     
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  10. NBH

    NBH

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    It's a standardized wheel by Cosworth that all the IndyCar teams use. These cars do have a P2P system that drivers can use to gain extra HP. It has a duration of 2 minutes something like that. So throughout the race they have to be strategic about it. Kinda like KERS I guess.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
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  11. Ryno917

    Ryno917

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    Not totally. There's at least 3-4 different wheels being used by different drivers. They each have their preference for wheel diameter, button location, etc.

    Ultimately they all have the same fuctions as eachother, but the layout/format and size vary depending on driver preference. I have no idea if they're all made by Cosworth or not, but they're definitely not all the same wheel.
     
  12. silhouette106

    silhouette106

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    Such incompetance, I'd expect it if they where a junior formula team with a handful of people, but this arguably one of the best team that is not the top3 in the world premier motorsport series.

    Its a fitting end to the McHonda saga though. (Zak Brown is in buiness with Micheal Andretti, Andretti run one of the top team in Indycar, with a Honda engine. Tellingly they ran a Chevy engine and teamed up with Carlin.) (would have tried with ECR if it was me, Carpenter/Tony George etc)
     
  13. PegaMixel

    PegaMixel

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    "Amateurs. We're acting like a bunch of amateurs. Very embarrasing."
     
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  14. CreamyCornCob

    CreamyCornCob

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  15. bgil66

    bgil66

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    "Ultimately"(Zak's fav word) Zak will be outta there soon. Hi Ron!!!:)

    David(Juncos) knocks out Goliath(McLaren)-----BOOM!!
     
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  16. Leonardo Chaves

    Leonardo Chaves

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    I said that on different forum last year, again this year, i don't understand why Alonso would go along with the "Mclaren Indy project" when he can you know... talk to Roger Penske.
     
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  17. bsmooth

    bsmooth

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    Talk about shoot yourselves in the foot ! Congrats to that small team, they did the prep work and weren't trying to do several things at once.
    McLaren didn't put the work in and it showed.
    “I should have been closer to Indy but I could never compromise Formula One,” Well that sure shows they were trying to do too many things right there. They did compromise, and they failed.
    Sounds like they failed before they ever even got to the track, sounds all too familiar to some of the early efforts by american teams at Lemans.
    You can't win Lemans or the Indy 500 with a half- hearted attempt.
     
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  18. Nick Hill

    Nick Hill
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    Lol, if Ron Dennis were running things, these people would be swimming back to Blighty! Whoever turns up back on shore gets to keep their gig.

    This McLaren will probably hire a consulting firm to help them do a retrospective.
     
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  19. MarkR

    MarkR

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    Such a shame to see how this great racing team has fallen.

    Yes, Ron was a perfectionist, probably has untreated OCD and was generally an unreasonable man in his demand for excellence and improvement. Most of the time it is unreasonable people like him that change the world and McLaren did that several times with him at the helm.

    The past few years are a tale of woe. Marketing has taken precedence over performance. Imagine how the staff feel with comments like that from their CEO...all he needed to do was take full responsibility, say they'd get it right next time and actually do that.
     
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  20. Bobby Pennington

    Bobby Pennington
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    A lot of very good comments here regardless of which side of the coin you like. Since I'm from the US, I'll just say that there are 3 approaches here. There's the Indy Car approach which applies to all tracks except Indy, The F1 approach which needs no further comment on from me and then there is the Indianapolis approach. I love and have loved F1 over all forms of racing since I was knee high to a grasshopper and it's still my first love, but I do like Indy Car's on road and street courses and one oval......Indy.

    The Indy 500 is huge for almost any driver that races on tarmac. The teams spend the month, the entire month of May working on Indy plus they have programs looking into it year round because for them, this is the crown jewel. The skill set needed to win at an oval are unique. While not a big NASCAR fan, I do have an appreciation for the close proximity they can maintain while in all that turbulent air and part of this transfers over to Indy. If you have used a decent NASCAR sim you'll know what I'm talking about. Having said that, the great drivers show that they can adapt quickly so all you have to do is give them a car with a fighting chance and they'll take care of the rest.

    While F1 no longer uses Indy as one of the rounds for the F1 Constructors and Drivers title, it's pretty neat to look at F1 drivers that have won at Indy: Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Mario Andretti, Mark Donohue, Danny Sullivan, Emerson Fittipaldi, Eddie Cheever, Juan Pablo Montoya, Takuma Sato, Jacques Villeneuve. So it's a mishmash of who's who and the "also rans" of F1. Talent, equipment, preparation and a little lady luck and the rest is history. So it's hard to excuse McLarens' failure to qualify. You might not have liked or miss Ron Dennis, but I can tell you something, I don't think McLaren would have fallen to the point that it has and I know that they would be prepared to tackle Indy, period end of story. Zak needs to go and possibly some other management level people as well. It's a disease and you have to get rid of all the major infection to clear it up.

    Some of you may or may not agree with me and that's ok, but that's my view on the situation and this years 500 will be a little less special with McLaren and especially Fernando not being there. Oh well Sunday is still special because we have the Monaco GP and Indy. One of my favorite weekends of the year. Smoke 'em if you got 'em because we're going racing boys. Keep the shiny side up and the wind at your back.
     
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