Éric Boullier has quit as McLaren’s Racing Director with immediate effect, the Woking team has confirmed in the lead up to this weekend’s British Grand Prix.
“I am very proud to have worked with such a brilliant team over the past four years, but I recognise now is the right time for me to step down. I want to wish everyone at McLaren the best for the remainder of the season and for the future,” he said in a team media release.
The Frenchman served as McLaren’s Racing Director for four years, prior to which he was Team Principal of the Renault F1 team which subsequently ran under Lotus Renault GP and Lotus F1 Team guises between 2010 and 2013.
Boullier joined McLaren at the start of 2014 and was tasked with leading the former championship winners back to race-winning form.
His time at the team has, however, yielded just one weekend on the podium – ironically Boullier’s first outing with the team at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix – after which the team suffered three uncompetitive seasons in an unsuccessful reunification with Honda.
Boullier’s future was the subject of speculation in recent months given the team’s continued poor form despite switching from Honda to Renault in the 2017-18 off-season.
After claims that last year’s McLaren chassis would have been a championship contender were it not saddled with uncompetitive Honda power units, this year’s MCL33 design has failed to propel the team forward – despite its switch to seemingly more competitive engines.
The team lags well behind the similarly powered Red Bull Racing and factory Renault teams, and there were recent reports that a number of staff had approached former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh to stage an intervention.
The team’s technical director Tim Goss was removed from his role in an earlier reshuffle, but this has done little to improve the team’s fortunes or Boullier’s satisfaction in the role. He refuted speculation less than two weeks ago at the French Grand Prix that he would quit his post.
Despite these denials, the 44-year-old was deeply unhappy about the matrixed leadership structure within the team where he reported to a number of directors and shareholders.
In response to his departure, McLaren CEO Zak Brown announced a “simplified technical leadership” structure. Former Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran, formerly an advisor to the defunct Honda F1 team, has been appointed in the new role of Sporting Director.
Other changes include McLaren Chief Operating Officer Simon Roberts being put entirely in charge of production, engineering and logistics. The team’s newly appointed Performance Director, Andrea Stella, is now wholly responsible for trackside operations.
“The performance of the MCL33 in 2018 has not met the expectations of anyone at McLaren, especially our loyal fans. This is not the fault of the hundreds of committed and hard-working men and women at McLaren,” Brown explained.
“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.”
Images via McLaren