While most Formula 1 fans know McLaren has had a rough few years, they were more than happy to pin that performance shortcoming to the Honda power unit but since jettisoning the Japanese engine, the team have not made the progress many expected.
We could argue correct expectations for their first year with new Renault engines but a recent article over at Autosport has fans asking if time is running out for team boss Eric Boullier or even executive management in Woking.
The plot thickens with an article over at the Mail suggesting a group of McLaren employees are outing together a contingent to appeal to former team boss Martin Whitmarsh about helping them right the ship.
According to the article, it’s not the first time Martin has been contacted by disgruntled team employees. It seems that they contacted Martin about sending him a letter and asking for his help which he declined and told them to send it to McLaren executive Mansour Ojjeh who still has a strong relationship with Whitmarsh.
According to Whitmarsh, Boullier’s failure to explain why the team were woefully off the pace in Canada signaled a breaking point for the team and perhaps meant that he has “lost the locker room” with the move. Whitmarsh has begun speaking to Ojjeh.
‘I piled in a little bit,’ said Whitmarsh. ‘I love the team and I am desperately sad to see what it has become.
‘It needs a big change of approach. There is too much politics between the main figures. I think a number of them have to go. I have explained my view to Mansour and it is for the shareholders to decide what to do.
‘The team used to be all about winning in Formula One. Now they are looking at other avenues — going to race in IndyCar and Le Mans, for example. They are great things in themselves, but McLaren going in that direction, rather than making grand prix racing their sole priority, makes me shudder.
‘I live locally and I bump into friends who work at McLaren. They are disappointed with what is happening and remonstrate with me.’
McLaren and Boullier relieved senior engineer, Tim Goss, of his duties and that hasn’t gone down well with Whitmarsh.
‘Tim Goss’s departure pitched me over the edge,’ said Whitmarsh, whose own tenure as team principal provokes mixed feelings at Woking. ‘Tim has a fantastic intellect, and is a hard-working, non-political, value-adding member of the team. He was scapegoated. He may not have all the answers, but he would work on a solution from first principles.’
They are difficult times at McLaren and there is little doubt that changes need to be made. Ojjeh, as an owner, must be in concert with Boullier and CEO Zak Brown’s direction of keeping Alonso busy in other series and entertaining entering them but is he happy with what his F1 team is doing? It is worth keeping in mind that he is not the majority shareholder, however, and the politics have been ripe in the team since the outing of Ron Dennis. One might look closely to Mumtalakat as the majority owner and what decisions they are making.
Hat Tip: Mail