Over the weekend it emerged in the French media that former Citroen and Peugeot motorsport boss Olivier Quesnel is in pole position to take over from Eric Boullier as team principal of Lotus F1 team
The role is currently filled on an interim basis by team owner Gerard Lopez, who told L’Equipe newspaper on Saturday that Quesnel is the first choice, but that “The decision is not yet made.”
Quesnel, who has a glittering career of success in rally and sportscars, was on the list of candidates four years ago when Lopez hired Boullier for the role and he was the first thought this time. But there are thought to be two factors which are giving shareholders pause for thought.
One is his age: Quesnel is 64 years old, quite an age to make a debut in the Piranha Club of Formula 1. Mercedes’ boss Toto Wolff is 42, Boullier, now team boss at McLaren is 41, Christian Horner is 40 and even Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali is a veteran of 48 years old.
If he were to get the job, Quesnel would be the second oldest team principal after Sir Frank Williams (see table below)
Another is his command of English, the language of Formula 1 communication in press conferences and all stakeholder meetings with FIA and FOM.
Quesnel is currently active in motorsport via JN Holding Group and its Oak Racing team in sportscars, for whom Alex Brundle (son of Martin) drives.
Lopez is understood to have spoken to former McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, but it is thought unlikely that he would move into the role at Lotus. Sources in France have not been able to name any other notable candidates under consideration.
However it has emerged recently that former Midland F1 boss Colin Kolles is floating around in the background of the Enstone operation, albeit without any specific executive position.
It seems that Lopez and his company Genii are keen to move forward with the appointment of a new team principal, with the start of the new season just five weeks away, so a decision may come sooner rather than later.
Quesnel worked closely with Jean Todt in establishing the Peugeot Sport department which went on to be so successful in rallying, Rally Raid and World Sportscars.
He was most recently the boss of Citroen’s all-conquering world rally team.
* Lotus confirmed on Monday that it’s car ran for the maximum allowable 100km for a shakedown test in Jerez on Saturday, having managed only one lap on Friday. It will now join the other F1 cars at the Bahrain test starting on Wednesday February 19th.
Asked about how its power train performed, Renault Sport F1 confirmed that “The latest power unit configuration was deployed without any reliability problems, allowing Lotus to complete the maximum amount of kilometres permitted on a filming day. Updates developed in the dyno at Viry (Renault Sport’s base in Paris) during and post-Jerez test were run. Updates included minor hardware changes, software bug fixes and calibration improvements
Renault is playing catch up after a troubled Jerez test. The FIA Sporting Regulations forbid development work in shakedown tests, so Renault was at pains to point out that “upgrades trialed in the dyno in Viry were validated” but insisted that “no development was pursued during the filming day.”
OLIVIER QUESNEL’S MOTORSPORT RECORD
World rally champions (Citroen): 2008,09,10,11 – 36 WRC victories
Le Mans 24 Hours winner: 2009
CURRENT AGES OF F1 TEAM PRINCIPALS
Sir Frank Williams (Williams) 71
John Booth (Marussia) 59
Vijay Mallya (Force India) 58
Franz Tost (Toro Rosso) 58
Stefano Domenicali (Ferrari) 48
Monisha Kaltenborn (Sauber) 42
Toto Wolff (Mercedes) 42
Eric Boullier (McLaren) 41
Christian Horner (Red Bull) 40
Cyril Abiteboul (Caterham) 36
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