F1i exclusive: Eric Boullier rates his F1 drivers

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has worked with a dozen drivers in F1, getting up close and personal with a few high profile names such as Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button or Kimi Raikkonen. F1i asked the Frenchman to give us his assessment of the prominent racers he encountered and managed.

Across his eight-year tenure in Formula 1, which started at Lotus in 2010, McLaren's Eric Boullier has enjoyed a privileged vantage point from which to observe a diversity of drivers in his realm.

As a man held in high esteem by all who have worked with him and by his peers, Boullier's appraisal is sought and valued.

He gives F1i his insight and review of the talented men he has managed and supported, a list which includes Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Stoffel Vandoorne, Kimi Raikkonen, Romain Grosjean and Robert Kubica.

“There is no specific rule when it comes to building a rapport with your drivers as a team principal,” Boullier told F1i.

“Personally, I let the Alonsos and Raikkonens do their own thing. I set out a frame, a limit where I step in. For the rest, they are free to live their own life. That way, they don’t feel like they are being watched all the time.

“With drivers like Romain [Grosjean] or Stoffel [Vandoorne], the relationship is tighter. I want to be close so I am aware of what is happening exactly since it’s easier for younger drivers to go off the right route because of little details.

“All grand prix drivers are both fast and professional. They know precisely where they are headed and as such can focus on what is essential.”

Still, what makes some drivers special? That’s what we tried to find out when asking the McLaren-Honda racing director to describe some of the racers he has worked with across the years, listed below in alphabetical order.