McLaren racing director Eric Boullier lashes out at critics during heated press conference

‘We have a good team of people‘: McLaren racing director Eric Boullier lashes out at critics during heated press conference ahead of French Grand Prix

McLaren‘s temperamental bosses lashed out at their critics during a heated press conference on Friday ahead of Sunday‘s first French Grand Prix in a decade.

– who insult the workforce by giving them 25p Freddo chocolate bars as a reward for hard work – dominated paddock talk.

And, while tore to the fastest time in practice, there were frantic discussions between McLaren‘s senior management after the story broke, with racing director Eric Boullier primed before he faced the media at the Circuit Paul Ricard.

But Boullier lost his calm, accusing a journalist of ‘lying‘ for saying, correctly, that executives within the rivalrous team are briefing against him. Tim Bampton, head of McLaren PR, motioned from the back of the room to the FIA‘s director of communications to try to stop the questioning.

Boullier, who gave a muddled and evasive performance, did not rule out attempting to find and discipline the whistleblower, saying it was an ‘internal matter‘ – though it clearly no longer is.

He also insisted that the source spoke only for ‘a couple of people who are grumpy‘ – a ludicrous assertion because the malaise within McLaren is tangibly widespread, if not universal. 

Boullier, 44, is in his fifth season at McLaren – a period of unbroken failure. The team‘s last win came in 2012.

But he said: ‘No, I will not resign. We are on a journey. We are not where we want to be. We are with a new Renault engine partner and we have a good team of people. We know where the issues of the car are.‘ 

No, the heart of the problem is that he apparently has no idea what the car‘s issues are, or how to put them right. If he did, Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne would not have spent Friday two seconds off Hamilton.

Boullier made the extraordinary admission that McLaren will never win the world championship with Renault – so much for the journey‘s destination! ‘You can win races as a customer but winning a championship is another level – you need works team status,‘ said the Frenchman, who reports to chief executive Zak Brown, who has banned Sportsmail from his team buildings in a textbook case of shooting the messenger.

The roads leading into the circuit could not cope with the traffic trying to get in. This could be a serious black mark against the race as numbers increase over the weekend.

On the track, Hamilton, with a new engine, was flying – seven-tenths quicker than Daniel Ricciardo‘s Red Bull.

The only other drama, McLaren apart, was Marcus Ericsson having to climb out of his crashed Sauber pronto after it caught fire.