McLaren racing director Eric Boullier wants his team to focus on reliability at this weekend’s French Grand Prix after retiring from point-scoring positions in the last two races.
Fernando Alonso was running seventh in Monaco when he was forced to retire with a transmission issue, and then was 10th in Canada when an exhaust problem also resulted in him not finishing. Boullier is expecting the Circuit Paul Ricard to provide a stern test in terms of getting the most out of the car but wants McLaren to ensure there are no repeats of the recent issues.
“By design this circuit is no mean feat, and it’ll certainly be both a challenging and exhilarating track for the engineers and drivers to get their heads around,” Boullier said. “Our focus must first and foremost be on reliability after our recent spate of retirements. We’ve worked hard to understand our performance issues in Canada and hope that in France we can put in a more representative showing on track.”
Alonso comes into the race weekend off the back of his victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours and says that win is only now starting to hit home as he prepares to switch his focus back to F1.
“It’s not often we get to drive on new tracks, or tracks that are new for most of us but already have a strong legacy behind them, so after my Le Mans experience it’s great to be staying in France and heading to Paul Ricard,” Alonso said. “Winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans still feels like a dream and it was an incredible week. It’s finally sinking in now and I’m already looking forward to getting back in my car and going racing again.
“I’ve never raced at Paul Ricard in Formula 1, but I drove there in testing a few years ago and I’ve seen the designs of the new circuit configurations. I think it looks like it has the potential to be a mega track, and going to a new venue always makes things exciting, as we’re all in the same position learning its characteristics from scratch.
“From what we do know, it’ll be a tough race for the cars and drivers, and a tricky technical challenge to set the cars up. It does look like there are a few overtaking opportunities though, which should hopefully provide some exciting racing. After a couple of disappointing weekends, I hope we can bounce back in France with a more positive result.”