McLaren F1 shake-up: what does it mean for the British team?

Racing director Eric Boullier resigns just days before the British Grand Prix

McLaren Formula 1 Fernando Alonso Stoffel Vandoorne
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso will retire from F1 at the end of the 2018 season
(Image credit: Paul Crock/AFP/Getty Images)

Formula 1 team McLaren have made a number of key personnel changes just days before the British Grand Prix - the Woking-based outfit’s home race.

McLaren will head to Silverstone with a new-look leadership team after racing director Eric Boullier resigned from his post. Sky Sports reports that Gil de Ferran has been appointed McLaren’s sporting director while Andrea Stella will be performance director.

F1.com reports that the 2018 season was “supposed to be the dawn of a new era for McLaren”, but despite a decent start the team have struggled.

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Currently sixth in the F1 constructors’ standings with 44 points, McLaren’s MCL33 car is off the pace and F1.com says drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne are “struggling to make the Top 10 shootout in qualifying, let alone challenging for the podium”.

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Why the big changes?

When asked where this season had gone wrong, McLaren chief executive Zak Brown admitted to Sky Sports F1 that the team have been “too slow” and “too clunky”.

Brown said: “The reason the car is not performing on the track is because we’re not performing well as a team. What I see is we’re too slow to react, we need to simplify things within the organisation and we need to operate like a race team.

“[McLaren need to become] a much faster organisation, we’re a bit too slow and a bit too clunky. That’s not any one individual’s fault, I know we have got great people here, so it’s our ways of working that need to change.

“My job is to get all 700-800 people rowing the same way as quickly as possible, communicating well because it’s those people that produce the race car. So we might have a race-car problem, but it’s how we built the race car that’s actually the real problem.”

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What next for McLaren?

Since 2014 McLaren have experienced a “wholesale overhaul of the top of the F1 team”, Sky Sports reports. Brown says that the management changes are “just the start of the process, we’re far from finished”.

“We need to be a faster, more nimble organisation that communicates better because I think we’ve got great talent here, it’s not just gelling like it needs to gel,” he said.

“But I think we’re in a good place now, we’ve got a good foundation and I want to build on that rather than continue to make changes.”

With De Ferran as sporting director and COO Simon Roberts overseeing production, performance director Stella will “lead the team at the track”, says F1.com. CEO Brown says Stella will be “ultimately responsible” for the car’s performance.

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