Ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard says he sympathises with Eric Boullier following his departure from McLaren and has backed his former team to recover from its current slump. 

Boullier stepped down from his role as racing director amid a management reshuffle announced on the eve of the British Grand Prix weekend, following rumoured team unrest after a difficult start to the 2018 season. 

McLaren hoped to make significant progress in its new partnership with Renault this campaign but has so far been unable to meet its high pre-season expectations, leading to a number of major changes within the team’s management and technical ranks. 

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But Coulthard, who claimed 12 wins and finished runner-up in the 2001 championship during his nine-year spell with the Woking-based squad, believes Boullier unfairly shouldered much of the blame for McLaren’s recent struggles. 

“You’ve got to feel somewhat for Eric Boullier because I didn’t see him design the car, I didn’t see him build the car, I didn’t see him drive the car but yet he’s stood down because someone has to be the scapegoat,” Coulthard told Crash.net

“It’s very disappointing [to see] two great British teams [McLaren and Williams] that played a big part in my career, for them to be having the difficulties that they are.”

When asked if he feels confident McLaren will recover from its current slump, Coulthard replied: “Yes absolutely. McLaren will be back.

“I feel the performance future is brighter for McLaren given the momentum of that bigger group of companies and investors they have.

"It’s maybe not an infinite amount of money but I just feel that it’s so important for them that they will somehow be able to unleash the finance to put in place the structure that’s necessary to get people delivering. Clearly people have under-delivered of late.” 

Coulthard is unsure Williams will be able to take such an aggressive approach to its own recovery bid, given the Grove-based squad does not boast the same kind of financial means as McLaren has at its disposal. 

“For Williams, a smaller company, they need to run their business differently and therefore will they, in the business model they have, be able to be that aggressive and that risk-taking?" he added. 

“The stories of people re-mortgaging their house to get on the race track, do people have that bravery now that maybe they had in the past - I don’t know. Times have changed but I think motor racing still thrives on energy and passion and commitment, beyond just a strategic and engineering base.”

Fernando Alonso is currently weighing up his F1 future with McLaren while he has one eye on becoming just the second driver in history to achieve the unofficial triple crown of motorsport - consisting of winning the Monaco Grand Prix, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Indy 500. 

Coulthard reckons the chances of Alonso remaining at McLaren in 2019 currently stand at “fifty-fifty”, with the Spaniard having recently completed the second stage of his triple crown quest by winning this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans with Toyota. 

“I hope he does [stay] but I believe that it’s a fifty-fifty at this stage of his career with what he would like to achieve,” he said. “Are McLaren going to be giving him a winning car next year? That’s possible but unlikely.

“The focus [for McLaren] has to be on design, correlation with the race track, build and operation of the car. When you’ve got all those right, ideally you don’t need to have the best drivers to be in a winning situation.

“But what tends to happen is if you have a great product the best drivers want to be in it and you are talking moments of great success like they’ve had in the past. They will need finance, they will need structure, and if they can bring all that together they will have success.”

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