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.