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Éric's in Enstone - A new boss takes the helm at Renault F1

Published by Christine

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss?
Credit: Drew Gibson/LAT/Renault

Renault announced today that Éric Boullier will be taking over the team principal role, allowing temporary stand-in Bob Bell to return to his design department. I was hoping that Bob Bell might be able to stay on as boss, mostly because he has an awesome name, and also because I like how he handled the ever-so-slightly embarrassing situation when Grosjean imitated Piquet at Singapore.

Nevertheless, the announcement of a new team boss is not a surprise, as Boullier appears to come as a package deal with the new investors, having also been the CEO at Gravity Sport Management, which is also involved with Genii Capital. It's unclear at the moment whether Boullier will be leaving his role at Gravity, or any of his other interests. Éric also manages Ho Pin Tung and Jérôme D'Ambrosio, and we criticised Flavio for being a manager and a team boss at the same time. Will Éric do the same? He has already made the effort to dispel any concerns that Kubica's teammate will get a helping hand from him:

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.

The timing of the announcement is also not particularly out of the blue. No matter what verdict came from the French courts today, the Renault team wanted to distract from the bad headlines of last year with something fresh and new. Particularly now that Flavio has been unbanned, the announcement sends a signal that he is not about to rejoin the team.

So, who is this Éric man, and what can he do for Renault? A quick perusal of the web gives us some more of his history. His LinkedIn profile shows that he has only been at Gravity for a few months, whilst before that he was Technical Director at DAMS for almost seven years. He certainly has staying power. He's also been involved with Team France for A1 GP, who have never finished lower than fourth in the championship. He seems to have the credentials as well.

I am fond of younger team principals, as it always seems to bring some enthusiasm and fun to the sport. I've spoken many times about Christian Horner and how he brightened up the paddock when he first arrived. He and Éric are the same age, so perhaps it is Mr Boullier's turn to do the same. He's on Twitter for a start. Well, one tweet is more than Flavio ever did.

Comparisons to Flavio are actually quite tricky, because Éric comes from the engineering side of things. He is a team principal that comes from the Ross Brawn school of thought, rather than a hands off Flavio approach. How that will see him fare remains to be seen, of course. Although he has only had one day in the public eye so far, Éric has given a good first impression. Asked to describe his approach in three words, he said:

Humility, rigorous and openness. For me, the racing is the most important thing above all.

- Éric Boullier

That's what we like to hear. Let's see if he can live up to his own words.