Back in December, Eric Boullier – then still the team principal at Lotus – appeared keen to help Enstone newcomer Pastor Maldonado evolve into a regular points contender, just as he did with the team’s late bloomer, Romain Grosjean.
Almost two months later, Boullier swapped Lotus black and gold for McLaren silver and became that squad’s new racing director. And now, he’s keeping a close eye on the progress of rookie Kevin Magnussen.
The Danish driver had a spectacular debut in Australia with a third-place finish that was later revised to second after Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification. But things were tougher for him last weekend in Malaysia after he clipped the back of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen on the opening lap.
That incident earned Magnussen a five-second, stop-and-go penalty and two penalty points on his FIA superlicense. Nonetheless, it wasn’t a total loss as he was able to finish ninth and at least gain a few World Championship points.
Boullier regards the incident as a valuable learning experience, and has revealed that he has been conducting regular pep talks with Magnussen.
“Despite a front-wing change and a five-second penalty, we explained our strategy to him to make sure he finished in the points and he just did it, so it wasn’t bad,” he said according to Britain’s Sky Sports. “But we still need to develop him carefully. Twice a weekend, certainly at least once, we have a long chat.
“I’m monitoring very carefully his state of mind, the way he behaves. I’m watching him a lot, like I did with Romain (Grosjean). I’m trying to lock him in a room at least once a weekend to make sure he is okay.”
In the case of this past weekend, Boullier said he only needed to speak with Magnussen twice “for 10 minutes, which is enough.”
“…He is very open minded, so everything I tell him – like advice, let’s say – he is listening,” the Frenchman added.