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Boullier: I have to think about McLaren first

NEWS STORY
16/10/2014

Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen face an agonising wait as Eric Bouliier insists McLaren 'rebirth' requires major changes.

Sebastian Vettel's shock departure from Red Bull kicked the annual game of 'f1 musical chairs' in to life recently, especially as everything points to a move to Ferrari and therefore the departure of Fernando Alonso. With Mercedes insisting that Lewis Hamilton is on board for the next year, at least, McLaren finds itself at the heart of speculation as to Alonso's future.

If the Spaniard is heading back to McLaren, will the team opt to retain Jenson Button, particularly in view of his long relationship with Honda, or might it opt for teaming the two-time champ with Danish 'hot-shot' Magnussen. Then again, what if Alonso isn't Woking bound, certainly in 2015?

Talking to the official F1 website, Boullier was giving little away.

"I will not tell you much about this... just this much," he replies. "We need a mix of experience and eagerness. In this time of recovery for McLaren I need a boost, so our driver line-up needs to be boosting the team's morale and team's determination to reach as quickly as possible the level where we should be.

"We are working on the strategy for the coming years... plural, " he continues, "which means we could take on a big name now, or even two big names for next year, or we could stay the same and go for a big name - or again two big names - for 2016.

"We are still assessing what we should do, as it is a big decision that will obviously be driving our success for the medium term. If we take the wrong decision we could be successful in the short term but maybe not in the long term. And we are in the comfortable position of being able to wait. I know that doesn't make it comfortable for Jenson and Kevin, but I have to think about McLaren first. We have to make sure we make the right decision."

Boullier insists that the rebirth of the Woking team will require radical changes, and not just in terms of driver line-up.

"It is comfortable to say, 'Let's keep the same driver line-up another year and let's see what our new engine partner will bring and how it works.'", he says. "I am a racer - and Ron is as well - so of course we both want to apply the maximum pressure everywhere. So let's assume we will have a big name next year - or two big names - but do we have the right technical team behind them, the right leadership? Is everything in place? Can we make sure that everything is in place in six months? It's like Russian roulette: you only have one shot! If you bring the big name now and are not ready enough then you start to deliver too late and burn his determination - then what? So what we actually need is a massive boost for the whole system, and if we miss the momentum we will kill everything.

Asked if he can imagine a driver as experienced as Button suddenly finding himself without a drive - which in fact looked likely at the end of 2008 after Honda suddenly withdrew from the sport, his reply is blunt but honest. "That is a question for Jenson's management," he says. "My job is to make McLaren win."

Asked what he thinks Honda is expecting from McLaren, he replies: "To do more than our best I guess - and vice versa. What we first expect is to have this massive benefit of a works team relationship."

With its driver line-up still very much in the air, Boullier is asked if there will be other changes over the winter. "Before the winter," he teases. "Winter should be the beginning of the period of stability."

In terms of preparing for 2015, he reveals that the Woking outfit is to construct a 'development car' in order to run the new Honda power unit.

"To make sure that we are ready at the launch of the new cars in 2015 we've decided to build a development car, as Honda needs to check all the multiple systems. We also need to check the IT link between track and Woking and between track and Japan. So as not to have to focus on these things too much in the test season, we've decided to run a development car programme.

"In terms of car design it will be very similar to this one. We don't want to burn money on unnecessary areas. We just have to make sure that some technical options for next year are already on the car."

Asked when it might make an appearance, he says: "Whenever things are ready we will run. We never said that it will be Abu Dhabi or Jerez."

Asked if it is likely the team will run the Honda engine in the Abu Dhabi test days at the end of the year, he replies: "Yes. When it's ready, of course. We will take the decision in a few weeks."

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Spindoctor, 17/10/2014 16:06

"Quite agree. The problem isn't the drivers....

I'm looking forward to Honda, though. Let's hope McLaren can come up with a decent car after their improved performance of late, and that Honda give Merc a decent kick up the power-output and get them screaming for an "Unfreeze"..."

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2. Posted by Ex F1 Official, 17/10/2014 12:45

"Time for a change. Alonso in, Button out"

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3. Posted by snugs, 17/10/2014 8:06

"Re egotist. Totally agree. "

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4. Posted by Kommander Kitty, 17/10/2014 1:47

"@ snugs, well said sir! "

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5. Posted by kiwi2wheels, 16/10/2014 16:06

"@ snugs

You are thinking logically but there is the specter of the the autocratic egotist looming over the teams future.

I'm curious how many of the technical staff will jump ship............."

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6. Posted by snugs, 16/10/2014 12:43

"If McLaren could produce a car too match the power of the Mercedes engine it would probably be the case that the drivers motivation would be more obvious to the management and that the drivers would both be perfectly capable of converting a competitive package into acceptable results. The management of McLaren has produced poor cars, lost sponsors and over seen a complete failure to take any significant advantage of opportunities offered by engines, finance and drivers. Button has been the only stable element in the mix and there is not a shred of evidence to suggest he lacks either ability or motivation. Magnussen has performed more than adequately. McLaren management should show a large measure of loyalty at the least towards Button and when their own performance provides a car capable of winning then by all means assess the driver line up a fresh. McLaren should not stand on historic success and arrogantly question so publically the attitude and abilities of their drivers. Hamilton was lost. Vettle uninterested. Alonso uncommitted. Wake up McLaren and work to deserve the drivers you employ or the years of faded glory will continue. "

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