Boullier resigns as McLaren’s racing director
McLaren has announced that the F1 racing director Eric Boullier has resigned. The team has fallen short of its target of challenging for podiums this season following the switch from Honda to Renault for this season.
However, the team has failed to match Red Bull in terms of performance and has missed development targets, as well as an underperforming aerodynamic package. Pressure has been mounting on the Frenchman and ahead of the team’s home race, McLaren has announced a shake-up.
The team has appointed Indianapolis 500 winner Gill de Ferran to the new role of sporting director. Boullier said “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.”
Other changes include chief operating officer Simon Roberts overseeing production, engineering and logistics and new performance director Andrea Stella being made responsible for trackside operations.
McLaren’s F1 CEO Zak Brown said the overhaul was the result of a disappointing start to 2018, which he claimed were the result of “system and structural” causes that “require major change from within”.
Brown said “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.”
Boullier joined McLaren at the beginning of 2014, his task was to lead the team back to the top. However, his time was marked by the disastrous partnership with Honda. The Frenchman was under pressure from his home Grand Prix when questions began about his future.
He was clear that he wouldn’t resign and the team would bounce back.
McLaren taking necessary measures – Brown
Following the resignation of racing director Eric Boullier, McLaren’s CEO Zak Brown says that he is taking the necessary measures to see the team return to the top spot.
The team has failed once again failed to meet there pre-season targets in the first half of the season, which has caused pressure on the teams management. The team has appointed Gil de Ferran as sporting director, Andrea Stella as performance director and Simon Roberts as chief operating officer.
Brown told a press conference, “Our results this year have demonstrated we have a big performance issues. We are punching well below our weight given the history, the talent of people, the resources and the technology we have at our disposal.”
He says that the team are taking measures to make the team a race winning team. But admitted the team needs a period of stabilisation so we can build a strong foundation, but that wouldn’t happen overnight. Brown said Boullier’s resignation had not come as a surprise after mounting pressure on the team in recent weeks.
“Eric’s resignation wasn’t a surprise,” Brown added. “I spend a lot of a time with the team, a lot of time with Eric, he’s someone I have known for a long time.
“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.
Mercedes not certain of avoiding penalties
Mercedes have admitted they are still not certain that both Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will avoid grid penalties at this weekends British Grand Prix.
Both retired from the Austrian Grand Prix on Sunday, Hamilton retiring due to a fuel pump failure and Bottas because of a hydraulics issue which resulted in a broken gearbox.
Hamilton had to take a five-place drop in Bahrain, due to an unscheduled gearbox change following a hydraulics leak in the season-opening Australian GP. Mercedes technical director, James Allison says the failures in Austria as “entirely separate” and clarified “neither of them were related in any to the introduction of the new power unit” which Mercedes debuted in France two weeks ago.
However, they have been unable to say for certain, if they will avoid grid penalties for engines in the future. Allison added, “We think that both failures were confined to the items which failed and they are both things which can be replaced without breaking into the sealed areas of the car which attract sporting penalties.”
He says that they cannot be certain, because you don’t know what and where the failure is until they complete all the checks on the cars.
Ferrari looking to boost performance
Ferrari is to bring a new floor to this weekends British Grand Prix, in a bid to boost the team’s performance and respond to the major upgrade that Mercedes introduced in Austria.
The Italian team has been working on a new floor design to improve the team’s performance in high-speed corners and will be used in Friday’s practice sessions, with Ferrari looking to use it for the rest of the weekend.
Despite Mercedes failing to score in Austria, it was expected that the upgrades would have seen the team dominant. Both Mercedes performed well in qualifying, locking out the front row.
That is why it has pushed to gets its latest update ready for this weekend at Silverstone, where the outfit will have to cope with the thinner-tread Pirelli tyres that appear to suit Mercedes more.
Anything that can be done to help the balance of its car could play a major part on a weekend where unexpected high temperatures could play a factor in tyre management.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner believes a repeat of what we saw in Austria last weekend, where tyre strategies were thrown out of the window because of high degradation, could be on the cards.
He said “Last year we had Kimi [Raikkonen] have a tyre blow out, and Sebastian [Vettel] blew a tyre as well. So they have introduced this new construction of tyre for the new surface races, and that has suited Mercedes incredibly well.”
“Barcelona and Paul Ricard were both ironically the two tracks where they have had wins at. You can see why Toto (Wolff) has been campaigning to keep this tyre for the rest of the year.”
“I think that they [Mercedes] will be very strong at Silverstone, but the temperatures if this heat wave continues; we see that these tyres are very sensitive to heat. That could be a really interesting variable thrown into the mix.
Haas targeting Renault in the constructors
Haas’s team principal Gunther Steiner believes that the US team can now target Renault in the constructors’ championship, following its big points haul at the Austrian Grand Prix.
Both Romain Grosjean, who scored his first points of the season, and Kevin Magnussen finished in the points allowing the Anglo-American team to move to thirteen points behind Renault in the constructors. When asked by Autosport, if fourth was the team’s realistic target, Steiner said “absolutely.”
He added “You cannot just target fifth because we are fifth now – you need to always try to get more. Luck goes around. Sometimes somebody gets lucky and somebody else gets unlucky. Renault is a strong team, they know what they are doing, and for sure they will not make it easy for us.”
Steiner says Haas was lucky and benefited from the retirements of both the Mercedes and Daniel Ricciardo. But the team needs to keep the others behind them, and the aim was to fight with Force India and McLaren.
Steiner said the result made up for Haas’s disastrous Australia Grand Prix, in which both drivers lost strong finishes after wheel issues in their pitstops.
“I think it’s a redemption,” he said. “Everybody said, ‘Oh the team must be demoralised’ and all that. They never were.” He says that other teams also know the potential of Haas.
Disabled person to present winners trophy
For the first time in Formula One history one of the winners trophy’s at this weekends British Grand Prix will be presented by a disabled sports person.
The only female tetraplegic racing driver Nathalie McGloin will hand over the third place trophy, on the behalf of the chairman of the British governing body, the Motor Sports Association UK David Richards. Richards has passed the honour to Nathalie in order to highlight the participation of people with disabilities in motorsport. The presentation will take place on Sunday 8 July 2018 at the Silverstone Circuit.
Last year, McGolin was appointed President of the FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission.
Richards said “We’re committed to promoting the unique opportunity that motorsport presents for people of all backgrounds, whether male or female and able bodied or disabled, to compete together on a level playing field.”
“On behalf of the MSA, I’m pleased to take this opportunity to demonstrate my personal commitment to inclusivity, and would like to thank both the FIA and Silverstone for their support in making this possible, not just in raising awareness of the accessibility of our sport but in providing a lasting legacy at the circuit.”
President McGolin added “When David Richards confirmed that I would be presenting the third place trophy after the F1 race at Silverstone, I was speechless. The support I’ve had from the MSA with my new role as President of the FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission has been incredible.”
“Being gifted this opportunity by David is humbling beyond words – it’s something that has never been done before by any other chairman, and the idea was completely supported by Jean Todt, President of the FIA. The sense of pride is enormous and I cannot wait for the F1 weekend to get started now!