Two-time CART champion and Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran passes away, aged 56

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Gil de Ferran has tragically passed away in Florida at the age of 56 on Friday.

The Brazilian driver had an outstanding career on and off track. He won the CART championship in 2000 and 2001 with Roger Penske’s team. In 2003, he became a winner of the Indy 500 to cement his place as a true great in Motorsport circles.

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment

Before that, he won the British Formula Three championship in 1992, a year after finishing third to Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard in the same category. Although he never made it to F1, he forged that incredible career in the United States.

de Ferran would end up joining Honda as their Sporting Director in Formula 1 in 2005. During his period with the team, the Brackley-based squad secured a memorable victory at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix as Jenson Button finally took his maiden Grand Prix win.

In 2018, he returned to the position of Sporting Director, this time with McLaren. After leaving in 2021, he was appointed as a consultant in a advisory role for the team as they made incredible strides throughout the season.

Unsurprisingly, the tributes from across the Motorsport world have been pouring in.

Roger Penske

“We are terribly saddened to hear about today’s tragic passing of Gil de Ferran. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Angela, Anna, Luke and the entire de Ferran family. Gil defined class as a driver and as a gentleman. As an INDYCAR Champion and an Indianapolis 500 winner, Gil accomplished so much during his career, both on and off the track.

“Gil was beloved by so many. He was a great friend to the Team Penske and INDYCAR family, as well as the entire international motorsports community. Gil’s passing is a terrible loss and he will be deeply missed.”

McLaren Racing

“Everyone at McLaren Racing is shocked and deeply saddened to learn we have lost a beloved member of our McLaren family.

“We send our deepest condolences to Gil de Ferran’s family, friends and loved ones.

“Gil was an important and integral part of our Racing team. He was a formidable force on and off track and made a lasting impact on everyone racing and working alongside him.

“He will be missed by everyone at McLaren Racing.”