Boullier: Forgive us, be patient, we will be back for sure

Eric Boullier has a plan for McLaren

Eric Boullier has a plan for McLaren

McLaren have slipped from being top dog in Formula 1 to midfield obscurity and are enduring another painful season of well below par results, facts that are acknowledged the Woking team’s racing director Eric Boullier who is asking fans to be patient because he is adamant the team are plotting a path back to their winning ways.

For a team whose success in Formula 1 is only bettered by Ferrari, and includes twelve drivers F1 titles, eight constructor titles and 182 victories, the past decade has been barren and the past two seasons simply unacceptable with no win in 27 races.

The man handpicked by team supremo to lift the entire operation out of the doldrums is Boullier, who told The Telegraph what he has experienced since he was drafted into the tam at the start of this season to replace Martin Whitmarsh who was ousted by Dennis in a coup d’equipe in January.

“The mood was down,” revealed Boullier. “People were in a mood where they were waiting for a leader to show up. The atmosphere was a little bit in standby. People were working, but it was a bit like: Where do we go? Right? Left? Up? They were a little bit waiting to say: Please send us somebody to lead us.”

Eric Boullier with Ron Dennis

Eric Boullier with Ron Dennis

“They dominated and won so many races over the years, and had this incredible capacity to recover, maybe a little bit too much focus on we can do it and we know what we are doing. I think sometimes you need to look outward a little bit. Self-confidence which was a little bit too much, misplaced if you want.”

Before the season began Dennis issued a post-revolution war cry suggesting that the team would win in 2014 and was proven wrong, Boullier explains, “I think he was told there would be an opportunity and then he just repeated what he was told. It was a little bit optimistic.”

When Boullier was at Lotus and Whitmarsh headed up McLaren the pair were close, they worked together at the helm of the now defunct FOTA and there was a professional friendship between the two.

“It’s a bit of a strange feeling because also I was very close to Martin for other reasons, and I have a lot of respect for him. It was a bit strange to come and not to see Martin there. In the end they were just very honest, very direct, straightforward, and it was a warm welcome from everybody,” reflected Boullier.

Dennis is the man behind the success of McLaren and sceptics wonder how much freedom Boullier will be given to implement his vision to turn around the team’s plummeting fortunes.

Eric Boullier with Martin Whitmarsh

Eric Boullier with Martin Whitmarsh

“He [Dennis] brought me in because he thought I can do something good. I need to be free to do it, and that’s it. There were some dominating parts, which let’s say were too influential, which were squeezing some other parts. If you have 250 engineers, I would use 250 brains rather than 10,” said the Frenchman.

“Everything has to be perfect. We need to put all the stars aligned, which means the best drivers, best teams, best expertise, best engineering, everything the best. Then it’s going to work,” ventured Boullier.

The question of which drivers will lead McLaren into their reunification with Honda has been a hot topic in the Formula 1 paddock, an issue which is very much on Boullier’s agenda, “It’s my job to be in touch with the drivers. Let’s say some drivers on the grid, yes, I am talking to them. As of today we just seek their position, because once again, we have to be the right package.”

“That means we are talking to understand when they could join us. Again, you don’t want to have Fernando Alonso if your car is two seconds off the pace. It’s a little bit too expensive and complicated to manage. But we want the best pair of drivers for us because this is part of the success. We will do it when we will be ready and when they will be ready to come.,” declared the Frenchman.

As for the here and now, namely the British Grand Prix – the team’s home race which they have won 14 times – all indications are that it will be a bleak weekend.

“Unfortunately, I’m sorry. I am sorry because even for myself, for our sponsors, for our fans, It’s frustrating to be here and sent into the middle and say we will be back for sure, I know, 100 per cent. I have to say it worries me a little bit to go there and say we are not at the level, but please forgive us and be patient, because we will be back for sure,”  concluded Boullier. (GP247)