Gil de Ferran, the 2003 Indianapolis 500 champion, has died. The McLaren Formula 1 team, where the racing legend was currently working in an advisory role, confirmed the news. De Ferran was 56 years old.
In the current situationThe Brazilian Automobile Federation confirmed that De Ferran, a French-born Brazilian, suffered a heart attack while at a private motor sports club in Opa Locka, Florida, on Friday. According to the CBA, De Ferran was taken to hospital but did not survive.
“On behalf of me and the entire CBA family, we pray to God to receive our brother with all glory and to support his family, friends and millions of fans around the world,” said CBA President Giovanni Guerra. In a translated statement.
De Ferran won the 2000 and 2001 Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) titles, as well as the 1992 British Formula 3 Championship. After finishing second to Penske teammate and compatriot Helio Castroneves in the 2001 Indianapolis 500, de Ferran lifted the Borg-Warner Trophy Trophy in 2003 in what would be his final start on racing's greatest spectacle.
“Gale defined class as a driver and gentleman. As an IndyCar champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, Gilles accomplished much during his career, both on and off the track,” Roger Penske said in a statement Friday night. “Gile was loved by so many. He was a great friend to Team Penske and IndyCar, as well as the entire international motorsports community. Gil's passing is a tremendous loss, and he will be greatly missed.”
In 2000 while racing at California Speedway, de Ferran set the record and closed track record for fastest lap at 241.428 mph. It was the fastest closed-circuit qualifying lap speed ever recorded.
De Ferran chose to retire from the top of American open wheel racing at just 35 years old at the end of the 2003 Indy Racing League season, a campaign in which he won the final at Texas Motor Speedway and finished second in the championship. To Scott Dixon.
The French-born Brazilian would return to the cockpit in 2008 for two campaigns in the American Le Mans Series while racing for the de Ferran Motorsports team that bears his name. He and teammate Simon Pagenaud would go on to win five out of 10 races in 2009 and finish second in the championship.
“All of us at Honda and HRC are deeply saddened by the sudden death of Gil de Ferran,” HRC President David Salters said in a statement on Friday. Both of de Ferran's CART titles came with Honda engines, and his team ran an Acura in two seasons for de Ferran Motorsports in the ALMS. “Gale was a huge part of the Honda Racing family and CART heritage, (and) he held a special place in all of our hearts.
“Listening to him tell his record at Fontana raised the hair on the back of my neck and he's doing it again now. (He was) an extremely talented man and a brilliant racer.”
Outside the cockpit, de Ferran served as BAR-Honda's sporting director in Formula 1 from 2005 to 2007 before launching his own ALMS team as a driver and owner. After retiring from the cockpit for the final time, de Ferran took Motorsport to IndyCar, merging with Luczo Dragon Racing (a team launched by Jay Penske and Steve Luczo, son of Roger Penske) at the start of the 2010 campaign. de Ferran Dragon Racing will run a full-season entry for Brazilian Rafael Matos, Along with two races for Davey Hamilton. Matos finished 14th in points in a season that started with a fourth place in São Paulo.
The team's name was changed in 2012 to Dragon Racing after separating from the de Ferran programme.
Since then, the racing legend has served as sporting director of the McLaren F1 Team from 2018 to 2021 and returned earlier this year as a consultant.
On Friday night, the team said it was “shocked and deeply saddened” to learn of De Ferran's death.
“We send our deepest condolences to Gil de Ferran’s family, friends and loved ones,” McLaren Racing said on He will be missed by everyone at McLaren Racing.”
De Ferran is survived by his wife, Angela, and his two children, Anna and Luke.
Here's the reaction to De Ferran's death:
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”