Speaking in a pre-season news conference at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Castroneves opened up about his loss – as he himself transitions from being a full-time IndyCar driver to a team co-owner with Meyer Shank Racing in 2024.
“Yeah, I sort of lost my consultant, my advisor in being a team owner,” an emotional Castroneves said as he fought back his tears. “Certainly, we’re going to miss him for sure.
“My memories with Gil is from the beginning of our era with Team Penske, [it] was us having our first meeting, which took us about an hour and 45 minutes, which means Gil was [talking for] an hour and 40, and mine was five minutes.
“Certainly, his personality was completely different than mine. Even though he’s trying to be funny, which he wasn’t funny, he became funny. He was one of those guys – big heart, very, very intense, incredible knowledge, and yeah, we had a lot of good moments, myself, Gil and [Team Penske president Tim] Cindric.
“We were called the Three Musketeers. Nothing could stop us.”
Castroneves and de Ferran teamed up at Team Penske in 2000, and from then until de Ferran’s IndyCar retirement in 2003, the duo scored 20 race wins and 25 pole positions between them, with de Ferran claiming back-to-back CART championships in 2000 and 2001.
Castroneves became the first driver to win the Indianapolis 500 in his first two starts (2001 and 2002), and de Ferran won the 2003 edition of ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ to make it three in a row at Indy for Team Penske.
“For sure, there were a lot of memories,” added Castroneves. “He’s the first guy or first person actually that close in my life that is not going to be with me or with us anymore.
“But yeah, we’ve just got to keep it going, and I’m sure he is up there right now redesigning the gates of heaven, so trying to make a modernized [version] or electric or whatever it is. I’m sure he’s having fun up there.”
Castroneves stopped competing full-time in IndyCar at the end of last year, as MSR changed its line-up to field Tom Blomqvist and Felix Rosenqvist in 2024, but will continue his bid to become the first-ever five-time winner of the Indianapolis 500 on May 26.
“The new role will be very interesting, a learning curve with MSR,” he said of his new arrangement. “We are working already intensively, our group. At MSR, a lot of the people from [IMSA] sportscars ended up being on my side for the third Indy car.
“The last two 500s basically were interesting. I felt that we worked well as a team but, unfortunately, weren’t able to execute with speed. We didn’t find what we are looking for, and I feel that now we are definitely on the right track, which I’m very happy to say.”