Former Lotus and McLaren boss, Eric Boullier, is confused as to how and why Fernando Alonso is seen as a disruptive influence on teams.
Boullier worked with Alonso for three seasons at McLaren between 2015 and 2017, during such time the Spaniard became known for hitting out at Honda’s power units as the team struggled for reliability and performance.
The 41-year-old has always been vocal about his situation with teams, and has never been one to hold back on criticising others.
However, Boullier affirmed that it is only ever his team-mate that Alonso has ever had any friction with, not any members of the team, so he does not get why he is seen as a team wrecker.
“I don’t know why this reputation [as a disrupter] has grown,” he told GP Racing.
“He was never a team destroyer, he has a real team spirit, but not always with the driver on the other side of the garage.”
At McLaren, Alonso always had a healthy relationship with both Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne.
His personality clicked with the 2009 world champion, so they worked well together as they developed the car.
In Vandoorne, he had a team-mate whom he was quicker than in 2017 and 2018, but the Belgian’s trackside input was something Alonso thrived on.
“He works well in an environment where he is number 1 and has a number 2 who can help him, and they can work together,” explained Boullier.
“When he was with Jenson Button, they were smart enough to understand and respect each other.
“With Stoffel, he could use Stoffel’s feedback to his advantage, and that’s why the relationship worked.
“If he can’t use a driver for his benefit that person becomes an enemy.”
However, any such hostility, from Boullier’s observations, never extends to the team members around Alonso.
“But I saw him as the best team builder of all time,” he added.
“He is a great competitor, he is focused on himself but he wants to include everyone around him to win.”
Boullier, who is now the boss of the French Grand Prix, notes that Alonso spends much of his time analysing data and looking for ways to make both himself and the car go quicker.
“Fernando reads every detail, he hides in his locker room in the motorhome, and you might think he is relaxing, but most of the time he is working,” he stated.
“He studies the deterioration of the tyres of all the rival cars around him from Friday practice, and on Sundays, he knows which opponents to fight and which ones to keep his distance from.
“In the race, he absorbs even more detail on the spectators’ screens and uses this information to gain an advantage, he is incredibly strong at strategic level.
“He is one of those drivers who understands all the technical aspect of the car.
“He is not an engineer, but he understands how the systems work and gives advice on how to make them work better, without trying to redesign them himself; the difference is small but important.”
Alonso is set to join Aston Martin from Alpine ahead of the 2023 season, and former F1 driver Martin Brundle has predicted “fireworks” when he pushes the team to improve their performance.