McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran has issued an apology after seeing Fernando Alonso fail to qualify for the 2019 Indianapolis 500 but is certain the team had completed all necessary preparations to be competitive for the race.

In one of the biggest shocks at the Indy 500 in recent seasons, Alonso’s participation and first shot at securing the final part of the prestigious Triple Crown came under threat after failing to set times inside the top 30 during Saturday’s qualifying.

Entering the Last Row Shootout to complete the field for the 103rd Indy 500, Alonso initially held a required top three place with a 4-lap average of 227.543mph but final runner of Kyle Kaiser in the Juncos Racing entry bumped out the two-time Formula 1 world champion by bettering his average by just 0.019mph to take the 33rd and final spot on the grid.

Following Alonso’s practice crash, the McLaren Racing team had struggled to find an ideal setup with his Chevrolet-powered car which was consistently off the pace of the leading pack.

Despite its disappointment McLaren boss de Ferran, who won the 2003 Indy 500, insists the team completed all key preparations and “certainly didn’t underestimate” its target.

“This is a very difficult sport. We certainly didn’t underestimate it. We knew this was going to be a tremendously hard challenge,” de Ferran said. “I’ve been here before. I've seen some incredible people not make the race. So we were certainly very aware of how difficult this was going to be.

“I want to apologise and thank our partners who have been fantastic, and incredibly supportive through this journey. I thank also the whole IndyCar community, who welcomed us with open arms. All the way from the officials, safety people, all the other teams, everyone in and around IndyCar, it was nothing but a warm feeling and a lot of support.

“This has been a very emotional and difficult experience, not only for me but for the whole team,” de Ferran said. “I want to take this opportunity to apologise and thank the fans, not only here in the U.S. but globally, who have been following our progress.

“I want to thank our team: the guys been have been working for several months, and particularly this last month or so have put in a tremendous effort and worked all the hours in the day.”

McLaren boss de Ferran has also thanked Alonso for his efforts as he reflected on his “most painful experience” in his motorsport career.

“I want to thank Fernando. We didn’t give him a car that was fast enough but he drove like the champion we know he is, particularly these last three days,” he said. “It has been incredibly tense and very difficult, and we couldn’t have asked anything more from him.

“In my 35 years of racing, this is the most painful experience I’ve ever had but we are racers. We respect this place and it is one of the toughest challenges in racing. This experience will only make us stronger as a team, and we want to come back.”

 

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