I remember the day they announced that Eric Boullier would be the new team principal for the former Renault F1 team which was bought by Genii Capital and Gerard Lopez. As an F1 fan sitting at home, I was not familiar with Eric’s past and I remember thinking, “who is this guy and where did he come from?”
In my limited line of sight, I was intrigued that a guy with no F1 experience would take the helm of a team. I had similar feelings about Cyril Abiteboul to be honest. Regardless, I don’t work in F1 so I’m no judge of who is qualified to be a team boss.
Now that Eric is at McLaren, it seems some in the F1 press have started asking questions about the team’s management structure and queried him as to if he was still the man for the job. While the team has had better reliability in 2018 having moved to Renault engines, they are still off the pace of their immediate rivals. Clearly, Eric would defend his role:
“Yes, I think so.
“It’s hard work. There’s a lot of expectation obviously from McLaren and from a lot of people.
“In my past life I’ve been managing, rebuilding, restructuring a few teams and I won with all of them in any category there was.
“I think I know my job and we need to make sure we can make it, deliver it on time.
“The timing needs to be the right time, not the wrong expectation.
“No orders are needed, we know what we need to do: we had to improve the reliability and we had to improve performance.”
To be fair, Eric went to school and studied aeronautical engineering. He then worked with the Spanish Racing Team, DAMS, A1 Team France and began a driver management role managing the careers of Ho-Pin Tung, Jerome D’Ambrosio and others. He spent four years at the Genii Capital team from 2010 until he left for McLaren in 2014.
The recent management re-shuffle at McLaren with Tim Goss has some wondering if there are more changes to come.
“We don’t want to comment much about what we are doing,” Boullier said.
“Obviously we are trying to be the best and being the best means also looking at how we can be more efficient in terms of our organisation.
“It’s part of life for a Formula 1 team to keep looking at how to deliver better and more.”
Fair enough, I wouldn’t expect him to tell the world who may be moved or not. Regardless, there is that old notion that when a team isn’t performing well, you don’t fire the team, you fire the coach/boss. It has been interesting to see what moves McLaren are making because they may signal the owners displeasure with where they are in this chassis and engine combination.
Many felt that with a Renault engine, they had the chassis to take on Red Bull but that hasn’t been the case so all that bravado about their superior chassis in the last three years may have been exposed with the departure of Honda. One wonders if the internal shakeup is a reaction to that exposure. So much so that you now have the press asking when Eric will be set out to pasture and that’s a bit odd if not uncomfortable.
Hat Tip: Autosport