He is gone, Eric Boullier the McLaren F1 racing director is out, the move was made so fast that Boullier didn’t even have enough time to pack his belongings into a cardboard box. It is perhaps the fastest McLaren have performed since Fernando Alonso re-joined the team in 2015.
Boullier is an intelligent individual having studied aeronautical and spacecraft engineering and naturally gravitated to the world of motor racing. He initially worked in sports car racing as a chief engineer and by 2010 had progressed to F1 due to his association with an investment company, Genii Capital. McLaren F1 had yet to make a call.
Genii Capital bought the Renault F1 team, as it made an exit from running a full works team in 2009, and made Boullier the team principal.
Renamed Lotus F1 in 2011, Boullier remained in charge until being personally appointed by Ron Dennis to become the McLaren racing director in 2014.
Fernando Alonso was attracted to re-join because Honda became the new official engine supplier. But the promise of a competitive chassis and a Honda powerplant able to match Mercedes never materialised.
Boullier placed the blame on Honda’s inability to deliver a reliable engine, at the same time he argued that McLaren had the best chassis on the grid and that Honda was holding back the true underlying performance.
As Honda suffered reliability after reliability issue Boullier became even more vocal about Honda publicly lambasting the proud Japanese company in what appeared to be a deliberate scuttling of the partnership.
Boullier’s intent was… interventional. McLaren had by now decided to switch to Renault power for 2018. But this never made any sense as the Renault power unit was no more reliable than Honda and no match for either Ferrari or Mercedes.
On top of that decision was the intent on losing £20m of sponsorship from Honda who also supplied the engines for free.
So 2018 would finally see Mclaren F1 at least as competitive as Red Bulls if not more so. It never happened, the McLaren Renault wasn’t even close to the Red Bulls.
McLaren F1 is no far further forward during qualifying than they were with Honda. Alonso has outperformed expectations during the Grand Prix delivering points, often with the help of retirements ahead of him.
Boullier maintained and even boasted that a series of updates in the first quarter of 2018 would see McLaren become more competitive, it never happened.
Red Bull Renault has won three races, the best result for McLaren Renault so far is 5th at the Australian GP.
It seems time has run out for Boullier, the McLaren CEO announced the Frenchman’s departure. On the causes of McLaren’s dismal 2018 performance, Zak Brown said, “The causes are systemic and structural, which require major change from within. With today’s announcement, we start to address those issues head on and take the first step on our road to recovery.”