F1 Winter Break
Major overhaul at Lotus F1 team as Lopez replaces Boullier as team principal
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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Maldanado's fault. The car isn't even build and it has already been sabotaged!


Maldonado : Oh man, my $30 million down the drain...




I do feel for Romain though...


Watch Grojean will get dumped from F1, nobody will take him and lotus is kaibosh. Eric or no Eric at Mclaren I cant see them taking Grosjean and as long as the Lotus is as or more competitive than last year he will start winning races.


If Grosjean performs well at Lotus as he did in 2013 and even manages to win a race or two and Boullier does become team principal why would McLaren not want to sign him?

It all sounds like a win-win to me.


As Romain's manager it might suit him to have a powerful contact at McLaren...


It seems that many are forgetting that whilst Boullier is Grosjeans manager he is only his manager via Gravity Sports Management, which Lopez owns, presumably this split isn't amicable and it would be a reasonable assumption that Boullier might also relinquish any role he plays in Gravity, and thus any role he played in the management of Grosjean.


Yes I do feel for Grosjean, somehow so far this year a Force India seat looks a better prospect than Lotus and that says alot considering Lotus had the 2nd best car for a big part of last season, an opportunity wasted at Enstone due to bad management by Genni and Boullier in my opinion, the courting of that Quantum deal and a lack of a works engine deal has all but killed this great team, I doubt they will recover from this, and how long has it been since Lotus had a real title sponsor?


Why do people accuse someone of being a poor manager when we all know they have not been allowed to manage?

Boullier was obviously deprived of several essential tools needed to provide good management. Given the circumstances he did incredibly well to hold onto Kimi as long as he did and led the team to perform well above what could have been reasonably expected.


I, too, agree.

And what does this mean for Pastor's progress? I genuinely believed Eric when he said Lotus could do the same for Pastor as they did for Romain (reign-in the red-mist)...hopefully that wasn't just down to Eric...

I really think Lotus is done-for. There's simply no way Lopez is remotely qualified to run a high-level motorsports team on the sporting side from the pit wall. I'm glad Boullier got outta there but feel badly for all those he left behind...the coward.


Maybe we'll be seeing Romain in a McLaren next year...


Romain is a Ferrari driver. Just a timing difference, as the accountants say.


Was my first thought after reading about the possiblity of Boullier going to McLaren. Grosjean's shown he can be one of the fastest guys out there, and he's also proved he's capable of delivering in both race and quali.

He'll need to put in a good 2014 though, and with all the Lotus drama going on, who knows if he'll even have a car good enough to do anything with...


Mine too!


McLaren? Surely Lotus wouldn't let him...?


Would it really surprise you if the next bit of news that came out was the Lotus don't have a leg to stand on because Boullier hasn't been paid, or Lotus have in some other way failed to hold up their end of his contract?

Unless he's just so fed up of F1 drama that he wants out entirely, I don't imagine Boullier would have left at this time unless he had a good reason for it.

Alexander Supertramp

French media think he's in pole position to replace MW at Mclaren?

We have had quite some shocking news stories during the interseason.



I certainly wasn't expecting either news about Lotus or McLaren.

James, how come these things have just happened out of the blue, and what do they mean for both teams in the future?


The assumption is that Boullier has left rather than being fired.

If that's the case then the "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." statement is laughable. Who do they think they are kidding?

If Lopez is combining the Team Principle role with his position as Co-Chairman, then he obviously doesn't do much as Co-Chairman.


This Lopez character is a laugh. First the Quantum money, yes we have it... oh, we don't. Kimi's salary issue. Then the skip of the first pre-season test. Now he is TM! Wow... He acts as if he would be the only who's looking what's going on. That is a ridiculous stance among the paddock where there are great TM's.

Eric has done a fantastic job to keep the team fighting above its weight. Surely, there have been mistakes in strategy calls, but look at Whitmarsh over the past few years. His time was overdue. Good luck to Eric wherever he goes. Only I expect Sam Michael NOT taking the TM role, the guy's a mess.

And so the big 2014 F-1 soap opera begins...


Several days ago I mentioned on this site how well Boullier had done at Lotus over the past year. Now he is gone.

Best of luck to him. What other French F-1 team can he go to now?

PS: How lucky Nico Hulkenburg must feel today!


What are the odds on Fauxtus not making the grid this year?


So Bouiller to Mclaren. Didn't see that one coming. Is he still going to manage Grosjean? What's certain is that him and Maldonado will clash this season as both are hot heads that cry when things are going against them. Grosjean will realise how good it was with Kimi even though he wasn't as good as him


If grosjean does a good job this year, next year to mclaren, when the british team is going to be a forcé to be reckon with.


Which makes a few assumptions. If Magnussen is the next Hamilton, then he's a good chance for a second season at McLaren, and Honda has lot of love for Button.


I believe " Santander" on the McLaren signals a move by Alonso in 2015...Jensen will be kept on for Honda's first year due to his popularity in Japan (doesn't hurt to have a Japanese model as a girlfriend either!) 🙂


Considering the largely unjust flogging Grosjean copped in 2012, and the complete turnaround he made later in 2013 to be one of the most competitive guys out there, I'd say the last thing he's doing is just having a cry when things aren't going his way. If you're talking about complaining over the radio about car failures, or unfair penalties, I'd say that should be expected. Any driver in F1 who has solid points or podium finishes taken from them for nonsense penalties or equipment failures out of their control should be rather bothered by it.

Maldonado also doesn't really have a cry about it, he just refuses to accept any responsibility and blames others for his mistakes. Spa last year for example, where he managed to give two separate and rather contradictory reasons to explain the ridiculous incident he was involved in, each blaming a Force India driver.


Why was his flogging in 2012 largely unjust?? He pretty much crashed into everything he possibly could.


You must be Grosjean's no. 1 fan or something. The start is all about spacial awareness. Just because a driver cuts in front of you doesn't mean you are fully obligated to slam into them...hard luck but better to look after your car, finish the race and avoid accident than crash and blame someone else. He's had way too many incidents for it to always he someone else's fault like you are trying to convince yourself. He only had to look at Kimi to realise this. Prime example being Brazil 2012, vettel broke very early in front of Kimi at the corner where he spun, but Kimi took very impressive evasive action going way off the track losing many positions. I doubt Grosjean would have missed him. I see you conveniently missed Suzuka 2012 off your list, I suppose Webber reversed into him there?


Here we go again... Most of the incidents weren't even his fault. Australia? Maldonado'd. Spain? Perez drove across the front of him. Monaco? Alonso barged his way through at the start and basically gave Grosjean the options of crashing into him or crashing into Schumi. I think it was Silverstone where a Force India drove across the front of him.

Basically, Malaysia he drove into Schumi. But in front of him I think it was Webber who was slow off the corner, which held up Schumi, which then held up Grosjean who was coming through the corner. Hit the brakes while turning in extreme wet conditions and see what happens. Didn't really have too many options. Spa he indeed caused, but a one race ban was ridiculous. It was a small offense that happened to turn into a huge incident. Alonso did basically the same thing to Raikkonen at Suzuka, but only ended up taking himself out, wasn't even investigated.


Not referring to car failures.. Referring to instances like in Korea when he got passed by his teammate after the restart and started whinging ? I don't think this is what 'should be expected'


So how many other such instances have there been?


Grosjean is much more likeable and humble compared to Maldonado.

I fail to see Grosjean as a hot head, instead I see that he doesn't "yet" have the fire in his underbelly to challenge the top cream of drivers.


Leaving aside the circumstances of his departure (my guess is he's McLaren-bound, as speculated in the article), but I can't see this being a positive for Lotus. Boullier seems to have had a steady hand on the tiller and achieved some considerable success despite various ups and downs from other parties over the years.


Yes, Lotus are on a one-way trip to extinction or a buy-out. All the off season news has been bad news for them and now they've got the boss thinking he can be Team Principal... Poor Romain...


there may be a conspiracy afoot against Lotus to drive down the already reduced value of the team to force out Genii completely before the team is purchased en lieu of new FIA F1 team entry, rebranded and fully sponsored, getting rid of all that debt along the way.

ironic that it would happen to a couple of "finance" guys that they'd get pushed out like is coming...

you read it here first.


While I tend to follow the sport more than anything I do have a soft spot for McLaren and would be very happy to see Boullier take over from Whitmarsh.

Whitmarsh just hasn't produced the results and Eric has done very well with Lotus.

I hope this isn't the beginning of the end for Lotus whom seem to be having a difficult winter. Grosjean deserves a competitive car

And while many don't like him for his childish outburst's I'm looking forward to seeing Maldonado in a front running car. He is a good driver just not the greatest person.


This is a massive blow for Lotus. Eric has done an incredible job at the team. Surely Gerard Lopez's first order of business is to find sponsors. Will he be able to cope with the race team??.

So looks like theres a few opportunities for team principals / principles (lol) out there ! .


I had a lot of time for Eric and he seems very capable I hope he foes turn up at McLaren. When I read the headline without reading the story, that was my immediate thought!


Eric is perhaps a good choice for McLaren.

Never thought that Ross Brawn would work for Ron !

Let's hope Ross goes to Williams where he will fit in much better.


CEO and team boss walk out, fraud anyone?


I think Eric Boullier - at least at face value - managed to lead Lotus with some integrity and dignity - which one cannot say for the the owners where I think where the problems lie. Hope Eric reappears in a more favourable environment soon!


I sense a sinking ship. I hope Romain has impressed enough that he might be able to sign a 2015 contravt early on with another outfit. If Magnussen/Ricciardo fail to perform then McClaren and Red Bull should definitely look at Romain!


Mag Gro Mclaren 2015

Im so calling it...


Only if Button seriously under-performs this year. He's still very marketable in Japan, which will be a bonus for Honda.

I think if Grosjean keeps up the performance, he'd make a good No. 2 driver at Ferrari.


...and we're so remembering it 😉


Lotus seem to be on a knife edge over the past few months.

Is Boullier jumping from a sinking ship?

If he lands at McLaren he's landed on his feet. With Ron at the helm and Honda on the way, The Maccas will be back at the front in no time.

It has come as a bit of a surprise though,(as much as any staff change in F1 is a surprise).

Did you have any idea this was on the cards James?


Disaster.. I won't be surprised if they sell the team next year


I would! I doubt anyone would buy it


Wonder if this is to try and get a grip on the image of a struggling debt laden, staff losing team potentially in trouble.

Perhaps to seem like Genii are in control of their asset to gain sponsors or even to improve the team image and value before selling?

Seems to be when you tell it like it is in so many businesses, you get shown the door no matter how good you do with the resources provided.


I bet RoGro is disappointed, as isn't Eric his manager. I'm sure he is also concerned about the competitive side of things, with a reduced budget the development may prove problematic. I see a move for Romain for 2015, especially if he wants to keep his career alive


Another non-surprise from Lotus.

If they don't make it to the grid I won't be surprised either.

Also I do not think that Eric is a good choice for McLaren.


Isn't he still Romain's magager? So what happens if he goes to McLaren?

Maybe it's all academic. With everything else we hear, I just hope there IS a Lotus Team in Melbourne.


Do we think that Boullier was pushed out, or that he found a better job and left? I suspect the latter.


Maybe he wasn't getting paid...


I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't, but I'd think it'd be more than that. Rather than simply not being paid, the reasons behind it.


You see what is happening because of money? Lotus did an amazing job, best after Red Bull with a fraction of the budget that big teams have. Allison is out, Kimi is out and now Eric. I think Lotus is as good as gone now. They lost key assets and it is all because of money and no future. Sad, they really had a great team at some point in time.


Boullier for McLaren in 2014, with Grosjean to follow in 2015 instead of Alonso perhaps....?


This team is in trouble, i dont believe this lopez guy,

Big money troubles, pay driver, loss of top engineers, false deals with dodgy characters and now this

Also how can he take charge dont believe he has motorsport experience???

Will be surprised if they are a force this year


The team principal role varies from team to team, and not all have to be of the "frustrated racing driver" type. If he has good people around him to handle the areas where he knows he doesn't have the knowledge/experience, it could still work.

Of course, that's if he still has the right people and they haven't all fled to other teams already.


i've been really impressed by Boullier over the last few seasons. hope one of the better teams can find room for a great talent.


Reports saying he's to head McLaren. So MW is not. Fun times ahead.


Eric Boullier has performed miracles at Lotus, hopefully he is off to McLaren to do the same.


Can't see him going to mclaren, not with the car the just launched, it's hideous!!!


Wow, big loss to Lotus. If he is headed to McLaren what a gain for them. Wish he was headed to Ferrari rather.


Yeah would be great for Ferrari, Alison and Boullier and Kimi and Alonso - that ought to challenge red bull!


Okay, the 2014 surprises keep rolling in and Eric's departure wouldn't have felt like a betrayal if he hadn't said this week something about rings being fenced.

For sure, the financial picture coming out of Lotus isn't too encouraging considering all the people with insider info are leaving.

Also on the racing side, the drivers may suffer from Eric's departure because it's thanks to him (and some sports psychologist) that Grosjean was able to turn his performances on the right track.

As for Lopez, am not sure if he's taking on too much responsibilities. In my view he would be best if he gave up some of his other titles like Co-Chairman.

Anyway, if it's true Eric is going to Mclaren then this would be a major coup for the team and would explain what Ron Dennis meant when he said >>> ''there will be changes''


From the looks of it, the Lotus team was revolving around Allison. When he bailed, the rest followed.


Glad to see Eric Boullier took my suggestion to leave Lotus. My second suggestion was for RG to do the same. He will find it more difficult without the continual mentoring of EB which we must believe was instrumental in RG's change in approach to his racing abilities. RG is certainly quicker than quite abit of the field. He just needs fine tuning and of course a new team. As always time will tell.


Looks like Kimi got out while then getting was good. I suspect we're going to see a drastic downturn at Lotus this year.


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!


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!


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


And Jonathan Neale, the MD


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.


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?


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


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.


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



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.


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.


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!


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.


Captain Concordia!


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.


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.


Whitmarsh to Lotus to complete the latest round of confusion.


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/



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?



I forgot to ask... Would any type of 'gardening leave' apply here?


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.


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.


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.


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

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?


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


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


I thought Williams have switched to merc engines?


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


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"


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.


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..

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