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Boullier: We aimed too low

NEWS STORY
19/04/2018

While Fernando Alonso proclaimed that Melbourne would be McLaren's weakest race of the season, going on to declare that the Woking outfit was targeting Red Bull, in reality the season opener was the team's best performance of the year thus far.

While in Melbourne the Spaniard and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne both finished in the points, Alonso coming home a strong 5th, in Bahrain, where both Red Bulls were eliminated early on and Kimi Raikkonen also retired, the Woking pair finished 7th and 8th. Last weekend, Alonso scored the team's sole points by bringing the MCL33 home in seventh once again.

Though the two drivers are well matched in terms of performance, thus far neither has made it through to Q3 on Saturday afternoon, in both cases Melbourne being the best qualifying result thus far.

Team boss Eric Boullier insists that the root cause is one-lap pace, the performance of the Red Bulls and Renault highlighting the difference between the Woking outfit and its rivals. Indeed, the Frenchman believes that in setting its initial targets, the team set them too low.

"The car has matched all the targets so maybe that means maybe the targets were not the right ones," he said, according to ESPN. "We need to revise, in terms of ambitions, what we need to achieve.

"Obviously we have the same engine as Renault and Red Bull and we are behind so there is no hiding that fact," he continued. "We need to understand why we are slow in qualifying, why we are better in the race and why we are behind the other Renault teams, full stop.

"There were obviously some questions asked in Bahrain," he admits, "there is still an ongoing process because we have to address it and we will address it and we are about to address it.

"The car is still very balanced," he insists. "If you listen to the drivers they are happy with the balance of the car. Whatever you try and setup the car reacts accordingly so a bit more understeer, less understeer, more oversteer, one tenth better here, one tenth slower here so I think we have a good understanding of the car.

"I think the car has no nastiness, if you want, in terms of the design. We just need to make the car faster around the corner and in the straight line."

However, the Frenchman insists this isn't simply about an aero fix.

"Well this is obviously one of the issues. Our top speed is not the best one because we are bottom in the ranking but it's not the only one. It's not as simple as this, you know.

"If it were a question of just driving the car it would be easy to fix so we have to address, I'm going to use the word fundamentally, all aspects of the car to make sure we are where we should be.

"We didn't turn up in Australia with the car we wanted because we were delayed for some reasons," he admits. "A lot of parts are on the way to hit the track, for logistic reasons it's very likely it's going to be Barcelona and from that point we will see performance-wise where we are."

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1. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 20/04/2018 21:33

"How on earth can an F1 team serious on winning, "aim too low"?
I was not expecting wins as it does take a bit of time to get things integrated however McLaren need to seriously look at their decision making processes.
Something obviously isn't right in the leadership department(s).
I know it isn't straight forward however you'd think that looking at the data, getting experienced input, comparing to historical situations and taking the political situation into account with a tight leadership group, one person then having final say, would be second nature to McLaren. Maybe they are trying to run the race team by committee which is taking too long (Merc didn't supply engines as McLaren were taking too long to make a decision. Sauber dropped Honda because of gearbox uncertainty)?
The board of McLaren need to think of the top leaders and ask themselves, "would we let these guys have equity in our company", regardless as to if they would actually do that or not.
Also, learn from the past.
After the Senna situation of '93, McLaren vowed not to be led by a driver's "wants" as it causes instability.
Watch what happens at Red Bull / Torro Rosso, Ferrari / Sauber and see how things develop.
McLaren had an opportunity with say a Manor Honda to get things sorted for long term competitiveness but let it slip. Now time is against McLaren with it being potentially another year or two away from wins and another engine rule change is on the horizon.
This whole aim too high, aim too low rubbish sounds like Goldielocks looking for the perfect porridge.
Why not aim to be better than the top?"

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2. Posted by F One, 20/04/2018 19:54

"Become the new Williams? McLaren ARE the new Williams."

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3. Posted by imejl99, 20/04/2018 9:42

"I don`t want to gloat over the situation, but McLaren have 8 constructor titles, 12 drivers, Renault have 2 as a constructor and another 9 as engine supplier, Honda have 6 as engine supplier. Alonso has 2. ZB & EB have zero between them. Change is long overdue."

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4. Posted by vins0n, 20/04/2018 1:11

"What about the innovative garage? I thought that was going to propel them to the front or something."

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5. Posted by Jezzer, 19/04/2018 19:55

"McLaren's biggest mistake wasn't Honda, it was letting Ron go. The only way to avoid being the new Williams is to beg Ron to come back, simple fix? Ron was the perfect business man, a real racer and is needed back where he belongs."

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6. Posted by Fambank, 19/04/2018 18:45

"That's odd...Because last year they had, according to their star driver, the best car in the field....which with the
right engine would have won on several occasions..."

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7. Posted by ClarkwasGod, 19/04/2018 18:19

"Aimed so low, has shot himself in the foot!! or feet!!"

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8. Posted by Editor, 19/04/2018 16:12

"@ Mugmug

That's because Ron put years of his life and his money into McLaren, Brown and Boullier are just employees.

Expect some seismic changes at McLaren but don't expect them to be for the good.

Ron got a lot of stick for some of his ways but there was never any doubting his passion for the team and its history."

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9. Posted by Mugmug, 19/04/2018 13:47

"Does anyone think Ron Dennis would have let this "situation" fester for so long? Zak Brown, and Eric Boullier will drive McLaren down to the likes of Williams within a year. Despite Ron's questionable people skills, he had a passion for the team and the sport, which I don't think ZB and EB have. "

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