McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown says Eric Boullier’s resignation did not come as a surprise to him following the team’s poor start to the season.
Boullier resigned on Tuesday as McLaren initiated a restructuring of its technical leadership group that sees COO Simon Roberts take responsibility for production, engineering and logistics, while Andrea Stella becomes performance director and Gil de Ferran is named sporting director. The changes come with McLaren struggling for performance, and Brown admits he saw Boullier’s departure coming.
“Eric’s resignation wasn’t a surprise,” Brown said. “I spend a lot of a time with the team, a lot of time with Eric; he’s someone I have known him for a long time. Obviously we have been under a lot of pressure and underperforming for too long, so Eric and I have had many conversations around how we can improve McLaren. And so we’d had conversations in the past of what’s the best way to do that.
“Ultimately, he wants what’s best for McLaren as we all do, so when he ultimately made his decision it was not a surprise, it was something we had spoken about our challenges and potential ways to address them.”
With Boullier leaving, the restructuring does not see a direct replacement named and Brown says he is not sure if the role of racing director will remain in place.
“I think at this point, we’ve not made any decisions on what is definitively in, what’s definitively out. This is the start of the process, everything is being reviewed. So in due course, I’m going to withhold from giving a play-by-play on how we’re going to rebuild our team to race-winning success. So to specifically answer that question, we haven’t made any final determinations of what is in and what is out.”
And Brown says he discussed the changes with Fernando Alonso before Wednesday’s announcement, highlighting the double world champion’s experience as vital to McLaren’s attempts to improve.
“Fernando is someone who has a nice history here at McLaren, he’s a huge asset. I think all of you would recognize that he is, we think, the best driver on the grid. I think everyone would certainly say one of the best drivers. He has a tremendous amount of experience, I’ve developed a very good personal working relationship with him.
“Fernando, quite frankly, is someone who… while all of you see his magic on the racetrack, what you may not see is his magic off the racetrack and the valued contributions he makes and insights he has into the performance of the car, into the performance of the team.
“So Fernando is someone who I have consulted since I started because he knows what a world championship effort looks like and I value his opinion. He’s part of this process, he’s a contributor to bringing McLaren forward.
“As far as his salary is concerned I think he’s worth every penny. We have total commitment from our shareholders, so we have the resources we need to spend in the areas we need to. It’s not an either or, so I think we get great value out of our contribution to Fernando’s salary.”