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McLaren must keep expectations under control - Boullier

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McLaren must keep expectations under control - Boullier
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Feb 1, 2018, 10:23 AM

McLaren chiefs have admitted that keeping expectations under control will be one of their biggest challenges ahead of the 2018 Formula 1 season.

A switch to Renault power for the campaign ahead has lifted hopes that McLaren can return to the fight at the front, following three years of frustration with Honda engines.

But although the team has set sights on podium finishes and even victories, racing director Eric Boullier and executive director Zak Brown know there are dangers that come from people expecting too much too soon.

Boullier told Motorsport.com: "It is part of the game, but we need to keep it under control. We need to make sure that there are no strong comments – and we keep just one line: which is under promise and over deliver. That is the key."

After a troubled 2017 campaign prompted McLaren to end its partnership with Honda, Boullier is well aware about the excitement bubbling inside his team about what is possible with Renault in the season ahead.

But he thinks it vital that the team does not get ahead of itself and take anything for granted – which is why he is eager to manage what he thinks is possible.

"Emotionally it is hard," he said. "And it is part of my job to manage that - even if I am a bit more Latin than most of my British colleagues. You have to keep it under control.

"You can get over excited very easily, especially after three years in the dark when you see the light coming. We have to be professional now."

Brown said that as well as the risk of expectations getting carried away, it was important McLaren did not put itself under too much pressure too soon.

"The team is used to fighting it out in world championships and it is something that everyone is looking forward to," he said. "It does come with more pressure, but everyone is going to rise to the occasion.

"It has been a while since we have been at the front, so we need to make sure that expectations aren't over the top for Australia.

"I think we will be one of the most viewed upon teams in Australia, as everyone will want to see where we are. So we need to make sure we don't put too much pressure on ourselves."

And although the switch to Renault should deliver a good step forward in performance, Brown is aware that there are areas McLaren needs to improve as well.

"Just look at pitstops," he said. "They are not at the area they need to be. That has nothing to do with what power unit you have.

"We are not perfect, but that will raise everyone when the pressure is on. It is like Fernando [Alonso]. He will naturally find another tenth when he is racing at the front and I think that will happen to all of us.

"We will all taste and smell it, and subconsciously work harder because you are stepping up a little bit."

Boullier suggested that keeping a lid on emotions would have to carry on past the season opener in Australia too – because a too successful start would bring some negatives as well.

"My dream is to win in Australia, but actually maybe being third would be better," he smiled.

"If you win in Australia, then the first thing you have to do is sit down with the sponsors and shareholders and everybody and say: 'Stop, this is just one race'. Winning a championship is another story. But I would be happy to have that problem!"

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Series Formula 1
Teams McLaren Shop Now
Author Jonathan Noble