McLaren F1 Team’s racing director Eric Boullier was “100 per cent sure” that Fernando Alonso was going to leave the team.
Speaking in the recently released ‘Grand Prix Driver’ – out now on Amazon Prime – Boullier discussed his fear of losing Alonso with McLaren COO Jonathan Neale. It followed disastrous pre-season tests last year when it became clear the team would once again struggle with their Honda power units.
“He’s going to say ‘you know what guys? Ciao bello (goodbye), he will not stay,
“I’m 100 per cent sure he will not stay”, Boullier says in the Amazon documentary.
“After this testing, obviously Fernando is quite p***** off. He is clearly saying ‘I may reconsider my position to race because I am not going to survive anotheryear like this’.
Boullier goes on to voice his fear that other crucial team members may be poached from McLaren by rival teams.
“My main worry at this time is not having the team collapsing. I know the domino effect as well, you know.
“I mean, in this business you know how it works…when you are weak, people they come, they just poach who they want.
“It takes years to build an F1 team, but you can kill it in six months.”
It transpired of course that Boullier’s fears were misplaced as McLaren agreed a partnership with Renault for 2018 and retained Fernando Alonso. Should McLaren struggle once more however, then Boullier’s fear of losing his star driver may very well come true.