From his previous role as a consultant with McLaren, Gil de Ferran is now entrusted with extracting the best performance from the team and its drivers on race weekends.
The Woking-based outfit’s latest leadership changes have forced former racing director Eric Boullier out of the team, with two-time IndyCar champion and Indy 500 winner de Ferran taking over part of the Frenchman’s sporting responsibilities.
The Brazilian, who had been working with McLaren these past months in an advisory role, will interact and collaborate with Andrea Stella, freshly promoted from head of race operations to performance director, and a man who made the move from Ferrari to McLaren when he followed Fernando Alonso back at the end of 2014.
“Andrea is there to maximise the weekend. Gil is there in a sporting context to maximise the performance of the team, and the drivers,” explained McLaren executive Zak Brown on Wednesday.
While de Ferran’s field of expertise appears to be centered around IndyCar given his past credentials, the 50-year-old former driver has had F1management experience, having enjoyed a spell as sporting director with the BAR and Honda between 2005 and 2007.
“We brought Gil in a few months ago as we identified that we could probably use someone with Gil’s sporting experience to get the most out of our drivers, our engineers,” said Brown.
“It was not our plan at that time to have him in this role.
“What we identified is an area in which we thought he could contribute and as we have worked with him and things have evolved it’s naturally fallen into place that we thought he would make an excellent sporting director.
“But that was not set out in a defined way when he first started.”
The always astute Mark Hughes, from Motorsport Magazine, noted on social media that “Stella and de Ferran’s promotions suggest a strong Fernando Alonso influence”.
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However, McLaren will likely require a massive and quick performance improvement to convince the Spaniard to remain on-board for 2019.
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