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Major overhaul at Lotus F1 team as Lopez replaces Boullier as team principal
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Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Jan 2014   |  11:25 am GMT  |  104 comments

Lotus F1 has announced today that Gerard Lopez has replaced Eric Boullier as team principal with immediate effect.

There is speculation that the Frenchman may be moving to McLaren as team principal.

Following on from the coup at McLaren last week with Martin Whitmarsh being ousted by Ron Dennis, it’s been a turbulent week for two of the leading teams.

“In order to continue strengthening its management structure, to further increase Genii’s role in the team and to close the gap between its strategic, commercial and sporting activities, Lotus F1 Team is pleased to announce that its co-Chairman, Gérard Lopez, will combine his position on the board with the role of Team Principal with immediate effect. As a result, the other chairmanship responsibilities will be shared with co-Chairman Andy Ruhan,” said the Lotus statement.

It’s a curious statement, which doesn’t make reference to Boullier, except in a quote at the end from Lopez where he says, “We thank Eric for all his hard work over the past four years and we are confident we can continue to fight as one of the top teams in Formula 1 over the seasons ahead.”

There has been quite a bit of upheaval at Lotus over the last few months, with Lopez going on the record last week to explain that the team had over $100m of debts, but that most of them were to parent company Genii – over $80m to be precise.

Boullier is credited with steering the team through some difficult waters last year as financial problems led to the departure of Kimi Raikkonen, technical director James Allison and other key staff, but the team nevertheless managed to score a win, seven second places and six third places and a total of 315 points for fourth in the Constructors’ Championship. He has had to deal with a lot of problems, but he is a proper racing man and he focussed on the essentials and delivered a strong performance under the circumstances.

More to follow on this story, but it is worth noting that since Wednesday Boullier’s personal Google + page has said “Worked at Lotus F1 team” – in the past tense – which seemed strange.

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1

Kimi left,

Allison left

Then 20 employees

Followed by Patrick Louis

And finally..Bouillier

Staff, suppliers and bank-loans are not paid

The team and Genii Capital are operating while insolvent

No wonder everyone is leaving the sinking ship..

2

No armchair F1 fans saw that coming and it makes you wonder about the disparity between fans opinions and F1 teams respect for the achievments of each others staff.

3

Some interesting news/rumors from the autoworld:

Genii capitalizing on Lotus F1 tech with new sports car?

” Detractors will tell you that there’s little to be applied from Formula One racing to the cars we drive, but what about the cars most of us could only dream of driving? We’re talking about supercars from the likes of Ferrari and McLaren ? two hugely successful F1 racing teams that have successfully made the transition into building exotic sports cars for the road. And soon there may be one more.

That would be the Lotus F1 Team, which is rumored to be working on a sports car project of its own. Now we know what you might be thinking: Lotus already makes sports cars. Indeed they do, only the F1 team has nothing more to do with the automaker behind the Exige and Evora than the name they share. Today the team (formerly known as Toleman, Benetton and Renault) is owned by Genii Capital, whose chairman Gerald Lopez recently confirmed the rumors to Auto Motor und Sport: “We are going to develop a carbon chassis for a sports car that can be built in large quantities…. But this has nothing to do with Formula 1.”

With little to nothing in the way of details available, the circulating rumors had tied the venture to on-again, off-again Italian auto marque De Tomaso. But our source at ATS (which recently bought the rights to the De Tomaso name following Gian Mario Rossignolo’s aborted attempt to revive it) firmly denied the prospect of any such collaboration. Spokesmen for the Lotus F1 Team would not divulge any information; neither would the press office for parent company Genii Capital, leaving the door wide open to speculation once again.

Connecting the dots, what we’re left to surmise at this point is that Genii is eager to capitalize on the technologies developed by the F1 team it owns in order to begin recuperating some of the $130 million it has sunk into the team. Without the wherewithal to bring its own sports car to market, and with De Tomaso off the table, exactly to whom it expects to sell the carbon-fiber chassis it is apparently developing remains a big question mark. But if it aims to follow in its namesake’s footsteps, we wouldn’t be surprised to see some Lotus racing technology find its way into a new road car in the near future. — 1/24/2014 Autoblog.com”

4

Working for one of the teams in F1..We all know, Eric Lux and Gerard Lopez are not clean. Both individuals and their company Genii Capital are involved in some serious police investigations s***t. Even Mr E ignores them. Bouillier is leaving a sinking ship…soon the truth will come out and all will be revealed what they are trying to hide with obtaining super injunctions. Shame for the sport

5

I think a perfect fit would be for Eric Boullier to turn up at Williams … Renault/Williams with Eric there … now that has potential 🙂

6

Except of course that they’re using Merc power plants in 2014 🙂

7

I thought Williams have switched to merc engines?

8
nicky samengo-turner

told you so…ages ago!….do the financially illiterate honestly believe that the debts are owed to Genii? what/who/where is Genii? the debts are owed to Proton/Hi-Com, and the due date (31 Dec 2013) for the debt repayment has obviously passed, part of it secured on a fixed and floating charge on Enstone. They are trading whilst insolvent…skint…bust…bras sic….take your pick. Big question is as to why Raikkonen and Hi Com have not issued statutory demands, which would allow them to take over the entire assets of whats left of the business?

9

I disagree with most on here regarding he has done a good job because look at the state of the business since he has been in charge.

He has run the company into a huge debt and has lost key staff. He is the man running the team and he should of stopped the snowball a long time ago. In my eyes he has left before getting the push.

Genie has kept the funding coming as best they can, but really lopez should of strengthened the marketing dept to get sponsors on board, yes kimi has done well, but why sign someone when you can’t afford them, then there was the lotus and quantum deals.

Genii bought in to sell at a profit and Lopez should of kept that in mind and ensured money was generated from within the team instead of taping up the owners and buying drivers they could not afford.

In short, the team is worse off after 4 years of him running it and there is no excuse.

10

I think that’s an isolated view. He’s done a great job with the budget he’s been given.

It was Lopez’ job to tell Boullier how much he could spend and then Boullier’s job to make best use of that money. Clearly he’s managed to deliver despite some of that money not coming through.

It’s very similar to a Premier League manager. He spends what his board and chairman give him to spend, They are also responsible for other costs like stadiums etc that are nothing to do with him

11

I think Eric too was not paid by Lotus – just like Kimi. That is why he is leaving and Lotus can nothing to stop him joining another team.

12

Should be fun to watch all the McLaren die hards heads explode when the French guy they’ve been bad mouthing for 2 years is put in charge of their team.

13

James,

I forgot to ask… Would any type of ‘gardening leave’ apply here?

14

James,

Any insights into the working relationship between Boullier and Lopez? I wonder if something finally came to a head? Also, due to their financial difficulties, could development of their 2014 car be so far behind he was made a sacrificial lamb?

15

Whitmarsh to Lotus to complete the latest round of confusion.

16

And today (Jan 27th) it is being reported as a possibility: http://www.gptoday.com/full_story/view/476652/F1_2014__Martin_Whitmarsh_to_Lotus/

17

You know a once good restaurant is soon to go out of business when the owner loses his fine executive chef as he can no longer afford him.

18

lotus is a farce under Lopez. they did well because they had a strong team and a blank check but now the team has been gutted, Allison, Raikkonen, Boullier, and the checks are running out. The fact is that Lotus is a black hole financially and the clowns at Gennii have sunk a ton of money into what is an unsustainable investment. The whole thing is imploding because the ownership is a joke. These guys used a bunch of their investors money so they could hobnob in the F1 circus and the end of this little charade is nearing its end. A shame for the Enstone staff.

19

Captain Concordia!

20

I hope Eric was paid for 2013. I will wait and watch to see if he moves across to McLaren.

Lopez couldn’t run a bath, let alone an F1 team.

I don’t see any good coming to Enstone as a result of these recent departures. No wonder Renault didn’t take them on as their works team.

21

Boullier and Mclaren and Hulkenburg to Mclaren in 2015?

If Boullier does go to Mclaren and with Ron back if I were Jenson Button I’d start looking around for another drive in 2015.

His buddy Whitmarsh aint around too to say what good job his doing and how fantastic he is anymore!

22

Lopez felt for the spotlights of Formula 1. A businessman isn’t a team principal. But, a team principal may become an astute businessman and business owner.

Team Lotus may have a good start of the season, but the second part of the season doesn’t look very bright for them.

23

Uh-oh!

Big loss for Lotus.

But then perhaps Eric was fed up with all the troubles (not of his own making) he had to steer the team through, and himself wanted to leave? Especially if a chance to go to McLaren turned up?

F1 doesn’t look very healthy now, does it? Pay drivers all around, silly regulations changes (like these double points), several teams on the verge of going down.

Time for some serious changes.

24

Too bad. I liked Eric Boullier and thought he did a great job making do with what he had available.

25

Not necessarily a bad thing. If he goes to another team, like say McLaren, he could still do a great job with what he has available, i.e. possibly leading a team to a championship of one sort or the other. Or both.

26

Of course, but doesn’t seem like good news for Lotus. Always liked the folks at Enstone.

27

I think this has come about the other way round. Boullier I suspect has been offered and accepted the McLaren team Principle role so that he can concentrate on leading a team that is less bound up in financial turmoil. I think he is the genuine article and potentially could do well at McLaren. Lopez I think is just a stand in while they look for someone with more race team experience which perhaps does not bode well for this year, but who knows?

28

I’ve made many comments here, that Boullier is the rising star of Team Principles.

Holding that team together, while accomplishing the fourth in the constructors championship was incredible on the basis of the constant fight to remain solvent.

Way to go, Eric.

Il doit-etre des bonnes prochaines etapes, pour vous, je pense.

Be it McLaren, or Ferrari, watch out for that team in 2015, when his leadership starts to bear results.

It is clear that Boullier is the last man standing at Lotus; I would suggest to the readers that he probably hasn’t been paid, let alone compensated as having done the best job of any principle in 2013, which is what I believe.

Rather than the obvious putting down of Lotus, I am hoping that they make it the grid and do well, but worry that this team that accomplished so much last year may have trouble answering the bell.

29

Incidentally, the McLaren car announcement features only Sam Michael, no word from Whitmarsh or anyone else.

30

And Jonathan Neale, the MD

31

Trust me… I was there clapping and cheering as a 6yr old when Bruce McLaren finished 3rd in the 1959 NZGP. Eric is the perfect man for the job should that be the outcome!

32

Bouillier is certainly one of the best team principals in the last few years, and I think it will be a big blow to Lotus. Somehow I can not see that Lopez will stay there for long: I think they are very much in a hurry to find a decent replacement for Eric…

I am curious how Eric would fare at McLaren, with Ron Dennis. Somehow I can see fireworks between these to when things don’t go as well!

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