Eric Boullier Q&A: Renault targeting top three return 31 Mar 2010
Just two races into the season and Renault are already back on the podium - not bad going for new team principal Eric Boullier. And thanks to Robert Kubicas second place in Australia last weekend, the French team now lie fourth in the constructors standings. Boullier, however, is determined they wont sit on their laurels just yet, and is instead aggressively targeting third place in the championship table, as he explains to Formula1.com...
Q: Eric, you have been Renaults team principal for just a few months. How are you finding your new role?
Eric Boullier: It feels very, very good. But what can you expect after that fantastic Melbourne weekend? I am very much enjoying my job! I have entered into a new world. In fact it is a completely different universe from what I was used to. Although the day-to-day business of racing is pretty similar to what I was used to, everything else - the hype, the media, the responsibility - is so much more. More is the word that I would use to describe it. I would not say being the team principal of an F1 team is a dream come true, but it is definitely a step that you want to make after working in so many other racing categories. If youre good, F1 could be the ultimate step.
Q: What would you say is the job description for a team principal?
EB: It has two aspects. First its purely about the management of people. To build up a successful blend of people who can deliver. Secondly it is the ability to understand the global nature of the sport in every aspect, from marketing, to business and to politics. You have to mix commercial issues, with the interests of manufacturers and with human considerations. To handle this part successfully is the most important thing for a team principal.
Q: Renault had a very difficult 2009 season. Are you surprised by the result in Melbourne?
EB: Well, I think that everybody working in Formula One is very passionate about the sport. The strength of this team is that at its core the people are proper racers, and so even if your morale has been affected by unfortunate affairs, you need to be able to bounce back. If you sit down and cry over spilt milk you will not go anywhere. The will and ability to bounce back is what makes real winners.
Q: Kubica is widely regarded as one of the teams biggest assets. Would you agree?
EB: Completely! Robert is ideal for us. He is a pure racer, like Fernando (Alonso), and so he fits very well with the team. It is a great motivation for the whole team to see a driver still working with the engineers late into the night - pushing and demanding. If the engineers can follow those demands, and the driver can put that onto the track, then you will have that result.
Q: At the first two races Kubica made it into Q3, while Roberts second place in Australia catapulted Renault to P4 in the constructors standings. Who would you identify as your biggest challengers?
EB: To be honest, we have to work much harder, be much more efficient and aim for P3. We dont care about P4.
Q: Your rookie driver Vitaly Petrov is the first Russian driver in Formula One racing. Was that one of the main reasons you decided to sign him?
EB: It was very clear that we had to consider an experienced driver, and once we had found him, with Robert, we could concentrate on the rookie driver. There were quite a number of parameters for our decision. The first one was of course performance, and Vitaly had shown that by finishing second in the GP2 championship. There was of course some risk in signing a rookie in terms of his ability to score points, but of course it is good to bring new nationalities into Formula One, and clearly a new market as well. Take Fernando and Spain. Ten years ago Spanish fans were following all kinds of sports, but not really Formula One, and now F1 is one of the most popular sports there. We clearly hope that we can do the same with Russia.
Q: The move from a manufacturer team to a virtual privateer team. What have been the biggest obstacles?
EB: I think it is basically to make people understand that we have a different way of managing the team - thats it.