Eric Boullier admitted that he was expecting some staff to depart the McLaren Formula 1 Team during 2017 as they continued to struggle with their Honda power unit for a third consecutive season.
After disheartening performances during 2015 and 2016, hopes that 2017 would be a more competitive campaign for Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne were soon dashed during pre-season testing, and Boullier, the Racing Director of the Woking-based outfit, admitted he was concerned that the difficulties in pre-season would see some departures.
“I went to the management, showed them the data and told them that we cannot accept another year like this,” said Boullier on the official Formula 1 website.
“We had a tough first year with Honda, we had a tough second year, and had expected progress good enough to get us back to where we belong – but Barcelona showed that we would go backwards and that was absolutely not an option.
“I obviously warned them about the consequences of another year of no results, where you keep everybody afloat.
“We have a new team, which has been reconstructed in the last three years: new people, very good new people – competitive people who used to win – and the danger was we’d lose them.
“The perception of a team is still very much based on drivers, because they are the faces of the team, but for me the real danger was losing those people. That was the discussion at the very beginning of the season.”
Boullier was pleased that the workforce was kept pretty much intact, and the work done behind the scenes ensured that McLaren had one of the best chassis designs on the grid, and with Renault taking over from Honda as their engine supplier in 2018, hopes are high that the team can become a force at the front of the field once more.
“When you look at what we have achieved in terms of car performance – chassis performance – we know that we are back on the podium, at the top,” said Boullier.
“That for me is a huge reward – that we have achieved this in difficult circumstances. The other positive I take from the past three years is that the team is really joined now.
“We have been suffering so much for three years, but at the same time nobody has left the team. Everybody agreed that this team will be winning again.
“There is a huge trust and confidence in what we are trying to achieve and because of that we have gone up, up, up, keeping developing this car.”