SILVERSTONE, England (Reuters) - McLaren announced the resignation of racing director Eric Boullier on Wednesday and the appointment of former Indianapolis 500 winner Gil de Ferran in a newly created role at the struggling Formula One team.
The second most successful team of all time after Ferrari are sixth in the standings after nine races and have not won a grand prix since 2012.
Chief executive Zak Brown said their current problems were “systemic and structural, which require major change from within.”
Brazilian de Ferran becomes sporting director, with Simon Roberts, chief operating officer of McLaren Racing, leading the technical side.
Andrea Stella, who moved with double world champion and Le Mans winner Fernando Alonso from Ferrari to the British-based team in 2015, was appointed performance director, responsible for trackside operations.
De Ferran also worked with Alonso, whose influence within the team is considerable, at Indianapolis last year.
Boullier had effectively run the team since he arrived at McLaren in 2014 but a restructuring in April left him reporting to Brown, an American marketing expert brought in after former boss Ron Dennis was sidelined.
Brown, who accepted Boullier’s resignation on Tuesday, said the team was punching well below their weight and suffering the effects of years of instability with shareholder and senior management changes.
“The reason the car is not performing on the track is because we’re not performing well as a team,” Brown told Sky Sports television.
“What I see is we’re too slow to react, we need to simplify things within the organisation and we need to operate like a race team.
“We’re a bit too slow and a bit too clunky,” added the American. “We might have a race car problem but it’s how we built the race car that’s actually the real problem.”
McLaren switched to Renault engines this season after ending a disappointing three-year partnership with Honda.
Their boast last year that they had one of the best chassis has been undermined by a continuing lack of performance while Red Bull, who use the same engine, have won three races.
Boullier’s position had looked shaky for some time, with technical head Tim Goss moved aside in April.
The Frenchman had said last month, amid reports of staff discontent at Woking, that he would not be resigning.
“I am very proud to have worked with such a brilliant team over the past four years, but I recognise now is the right time for me to step down,” the former Lotus team boss said in a McLaren statement.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Mark Potter