Eric Boullier, team boss of Renault
Eric Boullier has been confirmed as the new team principal for Renault.
He was the team principal for the French A1 GP team from 2007 to 2009. He is also the CEO of Gravity Sports Management, a company which is owned by Gerard Lopez. This is the same person who bought into Renault last month, alongside Genii Capital.
Gravity Sports Managment does not manage current F1 drivers, but upcoming ones. One name on their list you may recognise is Ho-Pin Tung, who tested for – surprise – Renault at the young driver test last month. Otherwise, there are a few drivers from GP2, F3 Euro Series and Formula BMW Europe.
It may not be surprising, after this deal, to see Ho-Pin Tung confirmed as the test driver for Renault. It is also possible for him to get the second driver seat, behind Robert Kubica, but I feel that he requires more time, having only driven an F1 car twice, for Renault and BMW (in 2004).
Boullier, 36, has no previous Formula 1 experience. He is, however, xompletely different to the previous principal, Flavio Briatore. Flavio knew only about the commercial side of Formula 1, and nothing about the technical aspect. Boullier, on the other hand, has a background of engineering and team managment, when he worked in junior formulae.
The appointment of Boullier means that Bob Bell, the stand-in principal after Briatore left, can now return to his role of technical director.
Included is a Q&A which was supplied by Renault:
In what frame of mind was the team when you arrived?
EB: When I started in the job it quickly became clear that the staff’s morale had been affected by the end of the 2009 season and that the last few weeks had been quite challenging. However, the team is now very motivated thanks to the new philosophy that the Renault F1 Team wants to implement and, when it was presented at the factory shortly before Christmas, it was welcomed with applause. Everyone is now refreshed and ready for action.
What will be your day-to-day responsibilities?
EB: I will concentrate solely on the sporting and performance aspects. Bob Bell will oversee the Design Office, Production and the technical development of the car. We have already had a lot of discussions and we think in the same way. I think that we will work well together.
Are you a representative of the new strategic partners of the team?
EB: I have been appointed by Renault F1 Team who stays in charge of all operational aspects of its F1 activity. Of course, representatives of Genii Capital were consulted, but it would be wrong to think of Renault as a two-headed structure that will have two decision-making hubs. This is one team with one structure.
Have you been given a time frame to prove yourself?
EB: My employers never mentioned this, however I have set myself relatively high objectives. F1 is a dream for an engineer and I wouldn’t want to let this opportunity pass me by. There is no pressure, only the motivation to do the job for which I have been appointed well.
Can you summarise your approach in three words?
EB: Humility, rigorous and openness. For me, the racing is the most important thing above all.
Is your age an advantage?
EB: I like to think so. The team wanted some fresh blood and to open a new chapter. F1 is made of cycles and the shape of tomorrow’s sport is being defined now with a new generation beginning to fill the paddock little-by-little. Ferrari and McLaren have, among others, followed this evolution. And Christian Horner from Red Bull Racing is my age!
What are your objectives for 2010?
EB: It is still a little early to describe them precisely, but my mission is foremost to put the team back on track by concentrating on two main themes. One of my priorities will be to put in place an organisation that flows and is efficient in order for Enstone to work in harmony. Then, for the performance, we must put in place an improved feedback process. It won’t happen in two months, we know that, but it will need to be progressive and solid. Today we have all the means to reach this objective. The budget is fixed, 60% of the wind tunnel has been upgraded and our high-tech CFD centre is now in full swing. So there’s everything to play for.
As CEO of Gravity Sport Management, will the second driver be a Gravity driver?
EB: The second driver will have to be able to score points and challenge Robert Kubica. So in fact, it might be a Gravity driver or not, but I can guarantee that it will be even more difficult for a Gravity driver to be selected as they really will have to prove their worth to be chosen as Renault’s second driver.