Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Paul Ricard, 2018

McLaren needs “works team status” to win titles – Boullier

2018 F1 season

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says they can win races as an engine customer in F1 but that works team status is their only route back to a championship.

McLaren ended its three-year partnership with works engine supplier Honda last season to take a customer engine supply from Renault. However rivals Red Bull have now ended their relationship with Renault to become Honda’s works team.

During Friday’s FIA press conference Boullier said Red Bull’s success with Renault was the upper limit of what teams can expect as engine customers.

“I think Christian [Horner, Red Bull team principal] is the showing that you can win races as a customer. I think winning a championship is another level, you need to have a works team status.”

However Boullier believes McLaren stand to benefit from Red Bull’s split from Renault. “We are starting a new journey with Renault and getting used to working together,” he said.

“There are a lot of things to discover and to build on and having obviously a little bit more focus, less distraction for Renault, having one team less to supply and to care about it’s obviously good news for us and we wish Christian the best.”

Honda and Red Bull are yet to confirm the full details of their partnership. The two parties have only signed a Memorandum of Understanding so far.

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McLaren previously enjoyed championship success when partnered with Honda in the eighties and nineties, and Mercedes in the nineties and noughties.

Honda’s split from McLaren, and new partnership with Toro Rosso, has coincided with an upturn in performance and reliability from the Japanese manufacturer’s power units.

Speaking to press yesterday, McLaren boss Zak Brown said that McLaren’s advice would have helped Honda move forward with their power unit project.

“Clearly Honda’s taken a step forward this year and they’re very intelligent people who are working very hard. I think they probably learned from the past three years. We collaborated with them a lot, gave them our views on areas that we thought would help with their development.

“I don’t know what they’ve done in the off-season but they’ve clearly taken a step forward.

“I think good companies, good people learn by difficult times and it seems they’ve taken a step forward and maybe we’ve contributed to pointing out some areas that they can get stronger and they’ve embraced that and that’s exactly what they’ve done.”

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2018 F1 season

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 34 comments on “McLaren needs “works team status” to win titles – Boullier”

    1. Well, last season you still had one. Then maybe you should’ve continued with Honda after all.

      1. Yeah a works team that wasn’t working, and Honda with still everything to prove up to and including this weekend of unreliability. RBR will now enjoy works status with Honda, and it sure is going to take some work.

        1. I’d argue that they performed better last year than this.

          But Boullier forgot to say that you need a good chassis and aero package as well to win titles. And since the same Boullier and that marketing guy moved in they have delivered nothing (except for some praise from Alonso in Mexico last year).
          I’m sure the engineers in Woking know how to improve chassis and aero. McLaren is just seriously lacking clear direction from the top.
          They need a ‘Works Team Principle/Race Director’ to win titles.
          @jerejj, @robbie

    2. Yes, Eric. You would get more attention from Renault regarding your engine. But who’s gonna devote more time to your chassis?

    3. Eric… at this point in Macca’s history… maybe Q3 is a better goal.

      1. @alex-bkk don’t you mean q2?

    4. Hans (@hanswesterbeek)
      24th June 2018, 13:27

      We should be a works team.
      We want to be a customer team.
      We should be a works team.
      We want to be a customer team.
      We should be a works team.
      We want to be a customer team.
      We should get our act together.
      We want to have at least one strategy forward.
      We should be a works team.
      We want to be a customer team.
      We should be a works team.
      We want to be a customer team.
      (repeat)

      1. It is beyond belief really.

      2. This is seriously starting to be very, very sad. You just don’t make that statement a year after you’ve given up a works deal. And not after you are P16 when cars with the same engine as you are P4, P5 and P7.

    5. He’s probably answering to a question, but Boullier is the last person on the grid who should be talking about WCCs and “works” status.
      Instead, he should be accepting responsibility for the state McLaren is in at the moment and come up with a solid plan to pull the team back together.
      To become WCC, you first have to build a fast car. McLaren hasn’t done that for many years now. So start with that, Eric.
      Then, you have to win the development race during the season. That means bringing regular updates that actually make the car faster. So that’s the opposite to this season, in which you have brought NOTHING AT ALL so far.

      When you have built a (the) fast(est) car and you develop it well during the season, only then can you talk again about works status and having a go at the WCC.
      Until then, apologize to your employers, employees and fans, shut up and get to work.

      1. Why is he the ‘last person to talk?’ It remains a fact that you need to be a works team to win the WDC/WCC in this era. We all know it. And responsibility does not fall solely on him. It’s a team, and he does not make all the team decisions. Nobody even remotely predicted Honda was going to be this bad season after season. Now Mac is learning with Renault and has had 7 races so far. F1 is hard. Harder than ever in this gen of works necessity. If it was so easy it wouldn’t be compelling to follow.

        1. Basil (@flyingbasil)
          25th June 2018, 8:02

          Because after screwed up Lotus, then was somehow hired to Mclaren and screwed up again.

        2. Robbie, he can talk as much as he wants.
          But he should talk about how he’ll bring the team back into Q2. And then into Q3.
          And how they’ll build a car that can finish in the points every race.
          It wasn’t aimed at him personally. I think Brown is equally responsible for the state McLaren is in for the moment.

          The fact is that McLaren’s chassis sucks. They admitted that themselves this weekend.
          No, in fact it was worse: they said that they don’t know why it sucks, because they cannot replicate the sucky bit in the windtunnel.
          That was an original way of saying ‘goodbye’ to the 2018 season.

          So anyone at McLaren right now is indeed not placed to discuss WCC’s or works team status. They have other things to focus on first.

    6. I’d love to see McLaren team up with a German car industry giant such as Porsche or Audi for 2021. Would be nice to have that sort of variation in the grid

      1. For sure.

      2. @xenif1 Me too, although the rumors of a VW brand coming to F1 have always been linked to a move with Red Bull for some reason. I personally would love Mclaren to try something with BMW. They were already successful in the past, in their collaboration with the F1 road car and also the win in Le Mans, so maybe reuniting could be a good option for them, provided BMW would be interested in it.

    7. It, ‘s not the chassis alone. The team is a mess with lots of organizational issues. Look at the last race where stoffel damaged his front. The team was not even ready in lap 1 for action and had to scramble at the last moment. Very unprofessional.

    8. ADUB SMALLBLOCK
      24th June 2018, 14:13

      McLaren needs works status to get to Q3!

    9. That’s a joke to take credit for Honda improving. I’m sure if Red Bull succeed next year (doubtful but still) McLaren will still be trying to take credit for it. They’re a joke. Blaming whoever they can, and hanging on to what little positives they can as if they’re anywhere near a functioning team.

      Lack of respect for the workers, lack of respect for the public, and way too much embarrassing hubris.

      1. Except that Honda themselves have acknowledged that the time spent with Mac has indeed helped them change their ways, in no small part to centre themselves in the UK rather than in Japan as one example. I don’t think Mac is trying to take all the credit, but they certainly deserve some credit for having suffered as long as they could with Honda which inevitably became a learning experience for all of them. The fact that STR has also been having unreliability issues up to and including his weekend shows that it was not just putting the Honda Pu into a Mac coke-bottle chassis that caused issues. They’re still having the same concerns in year 4 of Honda on track, year 6 or 7 since they started their effort for re-entry into F1, as Mac had up to and including last year…crank it for performance and lose out to unreliability.

    10. What is Boullier on about? I mean, they had works status for 3 years, and from what we are seeing this season now, they were as much at fault for their unsuccessful period those years as their engine partner Honda. They should just keep quiet instead of coming out with comments like this. It just seems like they don’t know where they stand anymore, a clear lack of vision, focus and direction. Maybe getting rid of Ron wasn’t such a good idea after all…

      1. Yes nobody predicted Honda would be so bad after so many seasons, and the fact that STR is having the same issues of unreliability any time they try to crank it for performance, shows that it wasn’t just Mac.

        1. @robbie are you in fact, Eric Boullier?

          The performance this weekend in comparison to Red Bull really says more than reams and reams of defensive comments ever will. And the Honda engine is clearly more reliable this year than previously, a free practice failure is not the end of the world jheez.

    11. Neil Dockray
      24th June 2018, 14:32

      ‘We have the best chassis in the world & the best driver in the world. The problem is the aerodynamics which cannot be replicated in even the most sophisticated wind tunnels in the world’.
      Why not come clean & say ‘The car is a dogs breakfast & we do not have a clue what to do’?

    12. I wonder if McLaren are currently in discussions for an engine partner for 2021. I would assume so.

    13. If McLaren truly desire works status, their options are becoming few and far between. Renault, Mercedes & Ferrari already have their own teams. Red Bull has Honda. That means McLaren will have to court a new manufacturer. The VW/Audi rumors that swirled involved Red Bull, but the VW group stated they weren’t interested in these engine regs. Maybe the new ones might entice them. I don’t see BMW coming back to F1 anytime soon, but I suppose stranger things have happened: I never expected Honda back either. Toyota finally has that Le Mans victory under their belt, & McLaren already use their wind tunnel… who knows? Cosworth could also be a possibility. Personally, if I was involved with the decision making at McLaren (especially in light of their road car success) I’d seriously consider expanding operations & starting their own engine department. It won’t be the work of a moment (and they’d have to go on a serious talent recruitment drive), but with the aforementioned new engine regulations there might not be a better time for them to take the plunge.

    14. Ha, ha, is that going to be their new excuse. Hilarious.

      1. “new”

    15. Ron Dennis said that five years ago and they just got rid of that status for, now we know, no good reason.

      Boullier must go.

    16. McLaren being the only team with Honda did a lot of harm. Not to say Honda did a bad job, but with no comparison to the team using similar engines, they could say it’s all Honda’s fault. Now there are two teams with the similar engines and their problems in chassis are clear.

      1. Honda asked Mclaren to supply to a second team, Ron Dennis denied it.
        And that was their biggest wrong doing of all.
        Now they aren’t competitive, they have no money and can’t afford their driver.

        The only good news is that their mechanics doesn’t work nearly as hard as they did in the past.

    17. McLaren doesn’t need works status or whatever status they want to have at the time.

      They need to take a real long hard look at themselves and fix whatever is wrong with them. I’m sure Bruce has probably turned over a couple of times in his grave with the direction that McLaren has gone. Their drop from glory makes them look like a joke, works status or not. They have the know-how, so its time for them to get on with the program and stop making excuses.

    18. Sahir Siddiqui
      25th June 2018, 13:17

      Stop dreaming about championship talk.. Baby steps… We would all be happy TODAY & NOW with winning the odd race.

    Comments are closed.