With the Honda era now over, McLaren hit rock bottom in 2018 as it became apparent that, even with a better engine, the team is still not competitive.
What followed was a staff revolt, with the victim being team boss Eric Boullier. De Ferran, an Indy 500 champion, is among the promotions as he starts full-time work as sporting director.
“As Zak says, we know that it will take a while to restructure the team,” de Ferran told Brazil’s Globo.
But he said McLaren has the ability to bounce back, and claims he has the “full support” of shareholders Bahrain, Mansour Ojjeh and Michael Latifi.
“I have met with them, and I repeat that the support is super,” said the Brazilian.
Even with Boullier’s departure, though, some think the management structure at McLaren is top heavy, as Mercedes’ was initially some years ago.
“Yeah, but it worked out there, didn’t it?” de Ferran smiled.
“As I say, the path to the moon begins with a first step. I don’t see any problems with the structure.”
Some, however, say de Ferran – whose daughter Anna is the girlfriend of Stoffel Vandoorne – has arrived mainly thanks to Fernando Alonso.
Increasingly, McLaren is becoming known in the paddock as ‘Team Alonso’.
“I would like to believe that the reason I am here is my competence,” de Ferran laughed. But he admits he has also known American Brown for “many years”.
As for Alonso’s political power at McLaren, de Ferran answered: “He knows what he is talking about. When he says something, it’s better to pay attention.”