Eric Boullier: 'Stoffel Vandoorne can relax amid McLaren crisis'

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier looks on in the paddock during day one of Formula One testing at Yas Marina Circuit on November 25, 2014
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Eric Boullier insists that F1 rookie Stoffel Vandoorne is "not under pressure" amid McLaren-Honda's current performance crisis.

Eric Boullier has insisted that Formula 1 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.

However, McLaren boss Boullier told Auto Motor und Sport: "He is not under pressure.

"Stoffel knows that we believe in him and that we have him under contract for a long time.

"He does not have to prove it to us in every race. We understand that this is not possible at the moment."

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.

Yet, as with the Vandoorne situation, the Frenchman eventually acknowledged that McLaren have to look after their drivers at the moment.

"We do not want the fire in [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 1."

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 as saying by Spanish daily AS.

McLaren, alongside Sauber, are pointless after the first three grands prix of 2017.

Jenson Button of McLaren Honda during previews ahead of the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 28, 2016
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4Force India71
5Toro Rosso29
6Williams-Mercedes22
7Renault18
8Haas15
9Sauber4
10McLaren0
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1Sebastian VettelFerrari141
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3Valtteri BottasMercedes93
4Kimi RaikkonenFerrari73
5Daniel RicciardoRed Bull67
6Max VerstappenRed Bull45
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13Kevin MagnussenHaas5
14Pascal WehrleinSauber4
15Daniil KvyatToro Rosso4
16Lance StrollWilliams-Mercedes2
17Fernando AlonsoMcLaren0
18Marcus EricssonSauber0
19Jolyon PalmerRenault0
20Stoffel VandoorneMcLaren0
21Antonio GiovinazziSauber0
22Jenson ButtonMcLaren0
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