London - Eric Boullier’s disastrous tenure as racing director of former Formula One giant McLaren ended on Wednesday as he resigned with immediate effect just days before the British Grand Prix.

The 44-year-old Frenchman joined the team in 2014 and oversaw successive years of disappointment with Honda and Renault engines as the once dominant force experienced the worst run in its 52-year history.

Boullier stubbornly refused to resign in late June amid reports of disquiet among the staff. He even had to deny a Daily Mail report that the staff were upset at being given chocolate bars as a bonus.

Zak Brown, the team’s American CEO, said the staff were not to blame and Boullier had to go because of the failure of this season’s car. They have just 44 points and are sixth in the constructors’ championship.

"The performance of the MCL33 in 2018 has not met the expectations of anyone at McLaren, especially our loyal fans," Brown said.

"This is not the fault of the hundreds of committed and hard-working men and women at McLaren.

"The causes are systemic and structural, which require major change from within.

"With today’s announcement, we start to address those issues head on and take the first step on our road to recovery."

He thanked Boullier for his service to McLaren.

Boullier accepted that it was time to go.

"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.

"I want to wish everyone at McLaren the best for the remainder of the season and for the future."

Gil de Ferran, a former IndyCar champion, takes up the new role of sporting director, while Andrea Stella, who moved to McLaren with Fernando Alonso from Ferrari, was promoted to performance director.

McLaren have won 20 drivers’ and constructors’ championships, but have not won a race since 2012 and have failed to finish on the podium in more than four years.