Boullier to McLaren: 'Don't panic'
1:15pm Monday 21st April 2014 in © Press Association 2014
McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has urged all within the team not to panic in light of their poor start to the current Formula One season.
It would appear the double podium result in Australia, with rookie Kevin Magnussen and Jenson Button second and third respectively, was a false dawn as the cars have since proven uncompetitive.
In Malaysia, Button and Magnussen were sixth and ninth, a staggering 80 seconds adrift of winner Lewis Hamilton, whilst a week later in Bahrain both cars suffered a clutch failure.
On Sunday in China, Button and Magnussen were outside the points in 11th and 13th, embarrassingly a lap behind winner Hamilton.
Of the four teams powered by Mercedes, McLaren naturally languish behind the factory marque, but also Williams and Force India.
It resulted in Button describing his current experience as "painful", with Boullier adamant such hardship will ease.
The Frenchman, however, is concerned the team will react the wrong way, so has called for calm.
"It is obviously bad, even worse to be honest. To have a DNS (did not score) - that hurts," said Boullier.
"If you are under pressure and you try something, I accept an honest mistake because you can make mistakes, but I don't accept the process where something went wrong.
"One of the dangers is after last year (the team failed to score a podium all season) is to go into panic mode, which would make things even worse.
"It is why we have to go back a little and say, 'don't panic'. McLaren has won as many races as Ferrari. Two years ago they were winning races, so there is no reason to panic.
"It is not because you lose one guy, two guys, six guys or 10 that the car does not work any more. It is more the panic mode.
"Sometimes you have to look at yourself and think, 'Well, what the others are doing is maybe more clever'.
"Like any business you have to watch your competitors and try and catch up with them."
Boullier concedes the fundamental problem with the current car is a lack of downforce, which in turn results in rapid tyre degradation.
Worse still is that performance is also weather dependant, and if the conditions are too hot or too cold the car struggles further.
Boullier is adamant the issues are being addressed and fixes will soon be in place, some from the next race in Spain following a three-week mini-break.
"We're working on it, and obviously it is going to come sooner rather than later I hope," added Boullier.
"Already in the wind tunnel we have picked up a lot of performance, and back in the factory everything is fine, it is just a question of preparing everything and shipping it to the track.
"Some of it will be in Barcelona, whilst other things will take a bit longer than this.
"But we're definitely in the mix - 100 per cent sure. On the track is one thing, but we know in the factory what is going to happen in the next three or four races.
"I know what is going on, so I know we are on a very good development rate."