Former McLaren Sporting Director and Indy 500 Winner Gil de Ferran Passes Away at 56

Gil de Ferran, the former McLaren sporting director and winner of the prestigious Indianapolis 500, has tragically passed away at the age of 56. The Brazilian racing icon suffered a heart attack at a private motor racing club in Opa-locka, Florida, and, despite being promptly taken to a local hospital, did not survive.

A Storied Racing Career

Gil de Ferran’s impact on the world of motorsports is indelible. His notable achievements include winning the Indianapolis 500 in 2003, a race that cements its victors as legends in the realm of open-wheel racing. Additionally, De Ferran secured back-to-back victories in the Champ Car World Series in 2000 and 2001 while driving for Team Penske.

Contributions to Formula 1

After his illustrious career in American open-wheel racing, Gil de Ferran transitioned to Formula 1, where he served as a consultant with McLaren. His influence extended beyond the track during his tenure as McLaren’s sporting director from 2018 to 2021.

Tributes Pour In

The sudden loss of Gil de Ferran has reverberated throughout the motorsports community, prompting tributes from fellow racers and colleagues. Jenson Button, a former Formula 1 world champion, expressed his shock and deep sadness, highlighting De Ferran’s excellence both behind the wheel and as a person.

Damon Hill, another Formula 1 world champion, remembered De Ferran as “one of the nicest guys” he ever met, emphasizing his humor, fighting spirit, and status as a true winner. Martin Brundle, a prominent motorsport commentator, echoed the sentiments, describing Gil as a “true friend, brilliant racer, and a professional.”

Team Penske’s Tribute

Team Penske, with whom De Ferran achieved significant successes, released a statement expressing deep sadness at the news of his passing. The team acknowledged Gil’s defining qualities of class both as a driver and a gentleman, emphasizing his accomplishments as an INDYCAR Champion and Indianapolis 500 winner.

McLaren Mourns a Beloved Member

McLaren Racing also joined in mourning the loss, describing Gil de Ferran as a “beloved member of our McLaren family.” Recognizing his formidable impact on and off the track, McLaren expressed sorrow at the passing of a figure who made a lasting impact on everyone associated with him.

Gil de Ferran’s legacy extends far beyond checkered flags and championships; it encompasses the camaraderie, respect, and lasting influence he shared with the motorsports community. His untimely departure leaves a void in the racing world, and he will be dearly missed by fans, colleagues, and friends alike.


Q1: Who was Gil de Ferran?

A1: Gil de Ferran was a renowned Brazilian racing driver who achieved significant success in motorsports. He notably won the Indianapolis 500 in 2003 and secured back-to-back victories in the Champ Car World Series in 2000 and 2001.

Q2: What was Gil de Ferran’s role at McLaren?

A2: Gil de Ferran served as the sporting director for McLaren in Formula 1 from 2018 to 2021. Following his active racing career, he transitioned to a role as a consultant with the team.

Q3: How did Gil de Ferran pass away?

A3: Gil de Ferran passed away at the age of 56 after suffering a heart attack at a private motor racing club in Opa-locka, Florida. Despite being promptly taken to a local hospital, he did not survive.

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