Gil de Ferran, the winner of the Indianapolis 500 and advisor to McLaren F1, went suddenly yesterday following a heart attack he had while visiting a private racetrack with family.
Tony Kanaan, a Brazilian friend of de Ferran, claimed that when de Ferran pulled over at The Concourse Club in Florida with his son because he wasn’t feeling well, he had a heart attack and was unable to be revived.
“[De Ferran] was one of my best friends and we grew up together and recently we worked together at McLaren,” Kanaan continued to tell The Associated Press.
“He was a mentor to me at the start of this year, offering assistance.” I lost a really close buddy. I’m inconsolable. He drove a racecar and went in true Gil fashion, I must add. I could chose to go in that direction if I could.
With Penske Racing, de Ferran won two consecutive Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) titles in 2000 and 2001. The team then moved to the IndyCar Series, where two months after fracturing his back in a crash, de Ferran led the team to a 1-2 finish in the 2003 Indianapolis 500.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of Gil de Ferran’s tragic passing today,” Roger Penske stated in a statement released by Team Penske. We are praying for Angela, Anna, Luke, and the whole de Ferran family. Gil described class as being both a gentleman and a driver. Gil accomplished a great deal during his career, both on and off the track, as an Indianapolis 500 winner and an INDYCAR Champion.
Gil had a huge following. He was a tremendous friend to everyone in the international motorsports community, including the Team Penske and INDYCAR families. Gil will be much missed and his demise is a tragic loss.
As part of the team’s reorganization, De Ferran returned to McLaren earlier this year as a consultant. He has served as the team’s Sporting Director from 2018 to 2021 before that.
McLaren expressed their “deep shock and sadness by this sudden and immense loss” in a team statement. Gil will always be admired and remembered for his remarkable contributions to the racing industry and his devotion to McLaren Racing.
“Everyone at McLaren Racing is thinking of Gil’s loved ones, family, and friends. We hope that the memories we all have in common with Gil will help them through this extremely trying period and beyond.
“Gil was not only a dear friend but a fearless racer whose passion and determination on the track inspired us all,” said Zak Brown, CEO of McLaren Racing. Gil and I have raced together all around the world, witnessing some of the biggest events that Gil has won.
“His tenure at McLaren Racing has been essential to our future growth, especially in the last year when our F1 team’s performance and results have significantly improved. The future of our team will continue to be shaped by his legacy.
In addition, De Ferran co-founded the electric off-road championship Extreme E with Alejandro Agag, the creator of Formula E.
“I am heartbroken today by the news of the passing of my dear friend and co-founder of Extreme E, Gil de Ferran,” stated Alejandro Agag, the founder of Formula E and co-founder of the electric off-road series Extreme E, alongside de Ferran. Peace be with you, my brother.
“Your legacy and memory will live on forever.” The motorsports industry has lost a hero today, which is tragic.