Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Silverstone, 2018

Alonso denies he called the shots in McLaren restructure

2018 British Grand Prix

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Fernando Alonso played down his role in shaping the management changes at McLaren following Eric Boullier’s resignation as racing director this week.

McLaren’s decision to allow Alonso to skip the Monaco Grand Prix last year and the presence of his Kimoa clothing brand appears on the car points to his importance to the team. The promotion of Alonso’s former race engineer Andrea Stella to the role of performance director prompted further speculation about the two-times world champion’s influence.

But asked about his role in the changes today Alonso told media at Silverstone: “I just drive cars.”

“If Zak [Brown, McLaren Racing CEO] thinks that there are other people now doing different jobs in the team it’s because he thinks that’s the best thing to do.

“I trust 100% Zak, I trusted 100% Eric, I trust always the bosses because they are the ones that have all the information.”

Alonso said he was only told about the planned changes and did not influence them any more than his team mate had.

“I wasn’t consulted I was informed about all the changes and all the new possibilities, as Stoffel [Vandoorne] had been informed.

“Obviously I had more experience with Andrea than Zak, who only know Andrea for one year long. He wanted my opinion and how I see also Gil. But obviously he knows Gil for 20 years and I know Gil for one year so he knows much more than me in terms of what possibilities and what scenarios may make Gil come into play.

“I fully trust whatever decision and just moving forward the most important thing is to improve the car and to be more competitive and hopefully from this weekend we’ll see a step forward.”

Alonso paid tribute to Boullier, who has left the team following a four-and-a-half year spell.

“I think we have to say thanks for all the effort and all the years here. His decision was to leave and I’m sure that the team will move forward in the best possibilities and we will keep moving forward.”

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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...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 25 comments on “Alonso denies he called the shots in McLaren restructure”

    1. Gemma St. Ivans
      5th July 2018, 19:34

      Funny how it’s being described as Boullier’s ‘decision to leave’ when he was obviously sacked.

      1. At that level nobody is ever fired, they always resign. Like politicians, when you want to fire somebody you just demand their resignation.

        It´s stupid saving face way of doing it but everyone knows the truth.

        To say that Alonso had something to do with this is a bit silly though. He may well have said something like ¨I dont want to stay here if the car is as terrible as this next year¨ and that might have influenced things but not much and even if it did there is nothing wrong with that.

        They need to go in deeper and weed out the other problem people that have just been showing up for work everyday but not producing anything good. Endless layers of middle management and red tape can all go.

        Hire some bright young engineers to work under some open minded veterans and give them some real technical leadership instead of wave after wave of executive yes men and investors to appease.

    2. Neil (@neilosjames)
      5th July 2018, 19:44

      McLaren strikes me as essentially being ‘Team Alonso’ these days, so I’d be more surprised if he hadn’t had a fairly significant input…

      1. It may seem like it is Team Alonso to you because he is the only person that is outwardly performing. Everything else about the team is so …meh

        Soon they will have no good drivers and will no be able to recruit any and their downward will continue the way of WIlliams who were not so long ago, also a top tier 1 team.

        1. Neil (@neilosjames)
          5th July 2018, 20:54

          No, he’s driving extremely well (I think as well as anyone on the grid) and he has been for the duration of his time at McLaren… but that isn’t why it seems like Team Alonso. That’s down an overall impression of the team, nothing to do with individual performance.

          1. I agree matt.

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        6th July 2018, 12:52

        Well, Vandoorne’s performance ain’t really helping with that, is it?

        If Vandoorne was pushing or beating Alonso in the races, you wouldn’t think that, would you?

    3. I’m amazed to hear now the team say that the new car has less down force than last year’s car. I’m beginning to think that the team was just as much of a clownshow as Honda was the past few years. They need a technical leader to get this back together and de Ferran does not fit the bill. They need an Allison or even a Coughlan making key design decisions and organizing the engineering processes. I’m tempted to say Lowe but he is not exactly whipping Williams into shape right now, although he is not at the helm himself.

      1. Mclaren’s last year car was very good at high downforce tracks like hungary for example. The engine was just horrible. This year it seems very different for some reason.

      2. @dmw, that is not what de Ferran’s role is about though, as his role is centred around how the team operates during the race weekend itself – it’s one that focusses on maximising the performance of the personnel and drivers through optimising how the team approaches their set up work, manages its mechanics and so forth.

        If you look at how McLaren is reorganising itself, it is Andrea Stella’s position at the team that is more centred towards a technical performance role, and you could argue that his background (as an aeronautical engineer) makes him more suited towards that type of role.

        1. That is an excellent point and I overlooked this distinction in function. But why then did they sack Boullier, who had nothing to do with the car until race day? Maybe severing these roles is part of the problem. McLaren needs to be run like an engineering company on both ends, i.e., by engineers, at the factory and track. You don’t have much going for you as a “race team” if you don’t have much of a race car.

          1. @dmw, there is some conflicting information on why Boullier is leaving McLaren.

            Whilst most sources have painted it as a case of Boullier being sacked, a few have suggested that Boullier resigned in frustration at having his proposed reforms of the team blocked by the rest of the senior management. Either way, it seems that Boullier’s role is effectively being split between several individuals within the team.

            @todfod, as I’ve said though, the “engineering and design” aspects are more likely to go to Stella instead of de Ferran. As for the comments about the performance during the race weekend, there have been some criticisms on that front – last year, for example, Boullier made comments suggesting that the pit crews were not doing as much training as in the past (and it was noted that McLaren’s pit stop times tended to be a bit slower than their rivals), so there are areas where improvements can be made.

        2. it’s one that focusses on maximising the performance of the personnel and drivers through optimising how the team approaches their set up work, manages its mechanics and so forth

          I don’t think that is McLaren’s weakness though. They’ve managed to do well during weekends given the state of the car. The fact that they are 5th in the WCC with 6th to 7th fastest car shows that they are performing well on that front. What they’re falling short on is engineering and design. Which is why I find the hiring of De Ferran an extremely poor decision.

    4. I think it’s Zak taking over control.

    5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
      5th July 2018, 20:11

      To be honest with the way he is, even if he didn’t nobody would believe him anyway.

    6. I thought Zak Brown was brought in to help with marketing and sponsors. How come he’s now team head. The only new sponsor I see is Kimoa.

      1. I think Zak was persuaded to be Racing Director because of his success at United Auto Sports.


        Quite frankly, I’m surprised Zak would agree to take on the monumental task of turning this disaster Dennis created around.

        As far as Marketing, which he was brought in for, he managed to sign Dell which is a major accomplishment considering McHonda was off the track more than on for the past 3 years.

        I’d be surprised if Brown stays very long due to the criticism he will receive.

        1. Before Ron left he was in the middle of making a massive deal with Chinese investors at 1.6 billion GBP. This is the forward thinking that McLaren needed, the takeover would probably have meant a bigger budget. No doubt the following seasons with Honda would still have been terrible, but I think McLaren would be in a different position this year… Ron leading with a bigger budget sounds better than what’s happening now. I think he would have kept Honda due to his passion. The budget would probably be similar to Mercedes instead of nearly half of it now in 2018.

          1. BMF66, Ron had supposedly been trying to sign a deal with this group of Chinese investors for several years though – if anything, at the time he was dropped there were rumours that those talks had collapsed and there was no new investment forthcoming.

      2. Zak did help with sponsors, just not a title sponsor which apparently they don’t want anyway. Last year the target sponsorship money was reached, not sure about this year.

    7. georgeboole (@)
      5th July 2018, 21:04

      Well they said the same when Alonso was complaining about Honda all those years and i m sure he has a lot of influence in the team.
      You cant blame him though. He is performing consistantly with a disappointing car even if its built around him.

    8. I thought Zac Brown already said Alonso was consulted about the changes. Anyway, if Alonso’s mouth is moving, he’s lying.

    9. Alonso also says he didn’t know anything about Singapore 08

    10. Zak and Gil
      How does that end?

      1. They went up a hill but got overtook left, right and centre because the car was terrible and had too much drag.

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