Eric Boullier, Paul Ricard, 2018

No “toxic atmosphere” at McLaren, says Boullier

2018 French Grand Prix

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has rejected reports claiming a there is “toxic atmosphere” at the Formula 1 team and insisted he will not resign in response to their underwhelming performance so far this season.

During today’s FIA press conference at Paul Ricard the McLaren boss faced a series of questions over damaging comments made by an unnamed employee.

“This is obviously an internal matter so we need to discuss what we need to see internally, what’s going [on], why that individual is unhappy,” he said.

“When you have obviously 800 people… we have a lot of support from the workforce and from the engineering. I think it’s just a matter of a couple of people who are grumpy. Actually, in some way it’s maybe good for us because we have a lot of feedback and good feedback.”

“We are all responsible for the car performance,” Boullier said. “No I will not resign,” he added, pointing to his lengthy record in motor sport. “I’ve got my 20th year now in racing, I’ve won races and championships with every team I’ve managed before, including Formula One, so this is some record that you cannot take away from me.”

McLaren have scored more points this year than they had this time 12 months ago. However their off-season switch from Honda to Renault power units has not produced the progress they indicated was expected.

“I think we’re on a journey,” said Boullier. “We are not where we want to be, we are not happy with where we are. But with the journey, with the new Renault engine partner, and obviously we have a good team of people, we just need to make sure we are finding the issues with the car and correct them.

“We know where the issues with the car are. When you build a car, when you believe in a concept, you have to develop the concept and make sure you correct if for the next one.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 40 comments on “No “toxic atmosphere” at McLaren, says Boullier”

    1. Spa 2012, the weekend McLaren decided to commit suicide. Every decision they’ve made since has been the wrong decision. It happens.

    2. Did he say that while munching on a Freddo?

      1. Duncan Snowden
        22nd June 2018, 20:37

        It would never have happened in Ron’s day. Ferrero Rochers at least. (Specially made ones, with titanium foil wrappers and the McLaren logo on the little sticker.)

        1. And perfectly round, mirror-like, not that mess of a wrapping filled with wrinkles.

        2. The pundits rant and rave about Zak Brown and Boullier and Alonso and how they are the cause of the turmoil McLaren is in and they all should be fired and hung. This would never have happened under Dennis’ watch they say.

          But if we take a look back when McLaren and Honda decided to work together, there are some facts that are hard to dispute. Ron was directly responsible for bringing Honda aboard. I don’t think he should be faulted for that but nonetheless it was his baby.

          I do think he is responsible for some blunders one of which was pushing forward with the “size zero” concept. It painted Honda into a corner from the get go and they never were able to solve it. He also refused to let Honda supply another team which would have provided crucial additional data needed to speed up development.

          Zak Brown was hired for marketing and finding sponsors. He did land Dell which is a miracle in itself. Afterall, who in the hell wants to sponsor a team whose cars seemingly spent as much time off the grid as on it? Now he has been “gifted” the additional responsibility of CEO of the racing division. Lucky him!!

          Although this year is an improvement, it’s hardly a raving success. Boullier and Brown should have to answer for it if things don’t get better as the season progresses. But if improvement is obvious they deserve another year. They didn’t get McLaren into this mess and deserve more time to try to right the ship.

          1. You get my vote for COTD.

      2. Are we sure that the news about the Freddo and the rest are real, though? I read the article and the whole thing sounds like a tabloid made up story.

    3. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
      22nd June 2018, 16:53

      I’m trying to think of a good/funny analogy for this, I’m sure there’s one out there, but can’t think of it.

      Either way, Boullier is the last person to ask about this. As the Captain of the ship, he’s not going to tell the press that a mutiny on his ship is underway.

      1. Yep.

        They visibly lack of strong leadership for a while.
        Seems like they have neither captain nor first officer.

      2. The thing is he’s not even the captain. He’s like one of four captains and he’s just the most public one… A part of me kind of feels sorry for him. When he was asked whether he wishes he had more authority in the team, he wouldn’t even be able to say yes if he wanted to. A very tough position…

    4. You’d expect one of “The Untouchables” you say that though wouldn’t you! Otherwise he’s effectively saying “I have failed at EVERY element of my job”

      1. @peterbaldwin Not sure why all the hatred on Boullier. His record is pretty good. He did do good job prior to McLaren. Also what exactly is he expected to say when he is accused of hiding a mutiny? There is something very British about the way people hate on McLaren.

    5. I think the most baffling thing is that it was a ‘bonus’, taking in recent history I would suggest a Freddo is actually quite generous, I’d be reaching for the Ninja Turtle stickers, and time in the corner for senior management.

      1. #bernasaurus
        Is it really a lowly composites tech’s “fault” McLaren is struggling? What about someone who is told how to design X part, and does as he’s told?

        If you don’t wanna give a bonus, don’t. But giving them a joke bonus is a good way to lose any remaining good employees left… or get hit in the face. All struggles aside, you don’t treat people like that.

        Do you really think anyone gives a damn after being issued his bonus chocolate bar? I would be looking for a new employer, or talking to the daily mail.

        Mclaren is done, they won’t win with zak brown running things… that guy is a weasel. Just think… they kicked out ron Dennis to bring in that guy…

      2. @bernasaurus Could you help me understand why this is a big deal? Why is it bad that McLaren showed them a nice gesture? Would money be better? Sure. But that’s not the point is it?

    6. So let’s move the red ones over by the railing and take those blue ones up to the Lido Deck.
      The Orange ones are to be set aside, they are going to the US for next year.
      One can sense a similar situation to the last few years with Honda. The complaint then, was that the Japanese culture was not willing or able to embrace “expert” assistance from outside the organization. Is McLaren not falling onto the same trap.?

      1. It looks like McLaren has been glued into its own certitudes (the ‘we still know how to build a fast car’) but since it got the Renault engine it got hit hard by the gap to RedBull. I hope (more for its drivers than the brand) it will be able to learn and bounce back but 2018 is already a wasted year (like the previous ones).

    7. Well, after watching Grand Prix Driver I could only think “I have a bad feeling about this”. Now that feeling “strikes back”. Such a pity Mclaren is Alonso’s “solo” option.

    8. No ‘Iceberg damage’ at Titanic says Smith

      1. Nice one. Have a freddo

        1. @mrboerns, @johnmilk
          Cool! (Freddo = cool)

    9. Ouch… Boullier got well and truly grilled. That was fun to watch.

      “Winning championships and races with every team I’ve managed including F1” is a funny way of saying Raikkonen inheriting a couple of strange wins at Lotus is the most success he’s had in his F1 career… It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that he has to strangely stretch the English language to bring merit to the results he’s achieved.

      1. There’s video?

        Please share.

        1. Skysports link if it’s geoblocked just try googling for it, FOM doesn’t care too much these are out there on youtube every weekend.

    10. The most important thing he said, was that he believes to be champion a team needs to be works team

    11. Btw, just an idea, since this is more or less a recap of the press conference. It would be cool some insight from @dieterrencken about the atmosphere, today it must have been fun, especially with the dayly mail reporter there

    12. >>has Alonso
      >>denies toxic atmosphere

      1. platitudes. Seems so passé to still say that about Alonso after the last 3 years with Mclaren

      2. Look what you’ve done here. Have you ever experienced a coincidence so incredible that it left you stunned? All is coincidence. He left Ferrari in turmoil and its team principal fired, after he left Renault that had no choice but to withdraw from F1 and its team principal banned from FIA-sanctioned events, after he left McLaren-Mercedes with a $100m fine and espionage controversy. And now you mix up McLaren, toxic and Alonso.

    13. I was reading the full transcript of the press-conference. I was expecting Eric to say he will headbutt the next one asking a Freddo question. What a lovely guys, that McEvoy dude. People really seem to enjoy having him around…

      1. Rui (@colinmcrui)
        22nd June 2018, 22:09

        Ha ha @dusty, I think he was close :) the full press conference is on YouTube

    14. I like the renewed McLaren team under Zac, but Boullier is not an asset to that team …

    15. I guess with such an emphatic statement from Eric the Believable, there must be a very toxic atmosphere there.

    16. I don’t like Boullier and I don’t really think the two wins he has on his record are anything truly remarkable. All I know is that Lotus in the end was a mess and McLaren has been a mess for a long while.

      If everything we hear is true, there are some serious managing issues complementing the engineering problems they have with their cars. I don’t know how they are going to fix them, but I doubt Boullier is the man.

    17. “Well boys, no more of one Freddo snack each zone, please. All the rest is reserved for mr.Boullier.” Than the Freddo-gate exploded.

    18. So, Zac and Eric are aiming for Ricci. What they offered to him? 20 million of snacks?
      Once upon a time there was the glorious McLaren…

      1. “Well boys, thank you for the hard work, you’ll be rewarded by a Freddo each one, but no more please, rest is up to Mr.Boullier.”

    19. manoli moraitis
      23rd June 2018, 9:18

      Daily Mail is stirring this attack on Mclaren. That’s all you need to know on whether it’s a valid issue.

    20. The Downfall of McLaren started from the 2nd half of 2008. They even went on to hire a second World Champion and had the fastest car at times whilst a limping Ferrari took the challenge to Red Bull. 
      Delusions of grandeur has slowely poisoned them. They need a massive clear-out from the top down and start fresh with their two junior drivers, I can’t see the point of hiring Riccairdo.
      I still think the dirty manufacturers have held the sport to ransom with the les and less relevant by the month ‘road relevance philosophy’. Nobody can decide whether McLaren dumping Honda and Red Bull now taking them on is good or bad. Both of these team should be having some wins next year with a decent rule overhaul.

    21. F1’s rendition of ‘Animal Farm’ looks interesting.

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