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Vandoorne is “not under pressure” amid McLaren crisis – Boullier

Eric Boullier says that, F1 rookie Stoffel Vandoorne is “not under pressure” amid McLaren-Honda’s current performance crisis.

One analysis of the situation might be that with the team struggling for pace and reliability, Belgian Vandoorne is risking his once-in-a-lifetime chance to prove he belongs in F1.

It comes after the highly rated Vandoorne, 24, was not able to even start in Bahrain due to a reliability problem, following two difficult races alongside teammate Fernando Alonso.

But McLaren boss Boullier insists: “He is not under pressure.

“Stoffel knows that we believe in him and that we have him under contract for a long time,” the Frenchman told Auto Motor und Sport.

“He does not have to prove it to us in every race. We understand that this is not possible at the moment,” Boullier added.

Meanwhile, Boullier admitted that he was not initially on board with McLaren executive Zak Brown’s plan to let Alonso do the Indy 500 next month.

But, as with the Vandoorne situation, the Frenchman eventually acknowledged that McLaren has to look after its drivers at the moment.

“We do not want the fire in him (Alonso) to go out,” he said. “Fernando wants to win, no matter what he does, and at the moment he cannot do that in formula one.”

Finally, McLaren had a much better day of pace and reliability at the Bahrain test on Wednesday, but Boullier was cautious about celebrating too much.

“If we knew why … that is the problem,” he is quoted by the Spanish daily AS.

McLaren ready to ‘help’ Honda-engine customer search

Boullier has also confirmed Honda are looking to provide a customer engine in 2018 – “We will provide support in finding a customer,” Boullier told German publication Blick.

“This year, Honda would not have been able. Everybody would have been weakened, but now things are different. But we have to make sure it’s not detrimental to our partnership with Honda.

“Whatever happens, we are partners, so at some stage there will be a second team, and I think we will have to support this.”

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