You Have No Idea How Much McLaren Blew It This Time

Illustration for article titled You Have No Idea How Much McLaren Blew It This Time
Image: AP Images

Among all the times McLaren has blown it, this might be the most blown that it has ever been. You already know that two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday. But what you may not know is just how unprepared his McLaren team was for the qualifying effort. There are metric tons of anecdotal evidence that McLaren has bigger problems in Jenna Fryer’s new report for the Associated Press.

I’ve followed motorsport for decades, and the closest thing I’ve seen to a fuck-up this big is the Nissan GT-R LM NISMO LMP1 effort. And boy howdy is that saying something.


The team forgot to buy a steering wheel until a week before the car had to run, and it was the CEO who had to track one down.

The path to missing the 33-driver field began when the car was not ready the moment Texas Motor Speedway opened for the April test. Brown had personally secured a steering wheel the previous week from Cosworth to use for the test, and the mistakes piled up from there.

Illustration for article titled You Have No Idea How Much McLaren Blew It This Time
Image: AP Images

Following Alonso’s crash on Wednesday, the team had to rush to get the backup car ready to go, as it hadn’t even been painted yet. The McLaren team was forced to sit out of practice on Thursday while they built the backup car to run. By contrast James Hinchcliffe crashed his car during Saturday qualifying and his Schmidt Petersen team was able to get the backup car built up and ready to go out again in two and a half hours.


The most mind-boggling missteps were made Sunday. First came a wholesale change of the car to a new setup cribbed from Penske and shock absorber settings worked out with Andretti, but...

in the frantic changeover a mistake was made in converting inches to the metric system the English team uses and the car scraped and sparked on his first lap.


And adding insult to injury...

McLaren discovered after the qualifying run that the car had the wrong gear ratio setup.


That’s right, Alonso’s car was given gear ratios that maxed out at a 227.5 mph lap, which might explain his 227.35 mph four-lap average. Team boss Zak Brown claims the car was capable of 229 with the right gears.

Wow, McLaren really stepped in the shit this time, eh?

What I’ve given you here is more than enough to earn a motorsport effort some big fat goose eggs, but it’s not even half of the stuff they did. I won’t dare give away everything, as Jenna worked really hard on this report and you should definitely click right here to go read her full summary of McLaren’s gobsmackingly ridiculous comedy of errors. It’s worth it.


My god, won’t someone give Fernando Alonso a good car? Oh wait, he’s going to go for another Le Mans 24 win with Toyota next month. Eh, that’ll do.

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.

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It's a "Porch-uh"

This seems like something you’d just partner with an established Indy team on instead of trying to do it yourself for your first time at the biggest race of the year. Have your team watch and learn how the pros do it, then do a bunch of testing, then a low-stakes race.