McLaren Formula 1 racing director Eric Boullier has hit back at a report the team rewarded staff with Freddo chocolate bars, and defended his position as part of its management setup amid growing pressure.

A report from the Daily Mail quoted sources within McLaren claiming they had been rewarded with Freddo chocolate bars, with the atmosphere within the team being allegedly described as "toxic".

Following three difficult years working with Honda, McLaren had hoped a switch to Renault engines for 2018 would result in an upturn in on-track fortunes. While it has risen to fifth in the constructors' championship, it remains more than one second per lap off the pace of fellow Renault customer team Red Bull, leading to questions about Boullier's future.

Asked directly about the Daily Mail report, and whether the team would be looking to discipline those who spoke out, Boullier said the matter would be dealt with internally.

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"This is obviously an internal matter. We need to discuss, we need to see internally what is going on, why these individuals are unhappy," Boullier said.

"We have 800 people. We have a lot of support from the work force and the engineering. I think it was just a matter of a couple of people were grumpy. In some ways it’s maybe good for us, because we have a lot of feedback and good feedback.

Boullier stressed he would not be resigning from his position at McLaren, defending his track record through his motorsport career.

"No, I will not resign," Boullier said. "I’m at my 20th year now in racing. I’ve won races and/or championships with every team I’ve managed before, including Formula 1. This is a record you cannot take away from me.

"I think there have been a couple of stories about some chocolate-gate in the media today which were a bit funny to read. It was actually good because we had tons of emails from people saying this is a joke. It’s maybe a couple of people grumpy, which in any organisation, you have some people who agree or disagree when there have been miscommunications.

"I don’t know what the problems are of these people. I think we have invited them to come and see us to understand the problems, and we are talking through the backdoor."

It was finally put to Boullier that his own staff were briefing against him, to which he replied: "I think you’re lying now."

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