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Olivier Quesnel in pole position to take over as Lotus F1 boss, but is he too old?
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Feb 2014   |  12:01 pm GMT  |  107 comments

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.”


World rally champions (Citroen): 2008,09,10,11 – 36 WRC victories
Le Mans 24 Hours winner: 2009


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

Do you think age should be any barrier to making an F1 debut as a team boss? Let us know your thoughts.

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According to Autosprint Oliver Quensnel is Lotus new principal, he will start work next week.


Well pardon me for saying so, but I’m way beyond these “children’s” ages and I’ll be quite happy to kick the ass of the next guy that suggests a mere 60+ is too old for anything!!


I don’t think the job is particularly appealing for anyone right now.

Funding issues, average driver line up, losing loads of key staff, seemingly iffy Renault power plant.


gerard lopez is the only person on earth who has a say on who he employs for the job. if he wants to employ olivier quesnel, he should nor matter what anyone thinks about his comand of english or his age. does ecclestone not do a good job in his eighties running the whole of f1 let alone running a single team?


“Another is his command of English, the language of Formula 1 communication in press conferences and all stakeholder meetings with FIA and FOM.”

I dont mean to be picky but the article does not make it clear why this is a problem. I presume that he does not have an excellent command of English but a bit more info would be appreciated.


Age is not a problem, me thinks, however language shortcomings could cause big troubles.


There are OLD 64 year-olds, and there are young 64 year-olds – in both body and mind. Looking at his picture, he looks in fighting trim and looks like he takes care of himself. If his medical exams don’t indicate any real troubles that massive travel would exacerbate, then certainly his CV looks damned impressive in motorsports. And he is French, which is very important to the sponsors.

Frankly, he seems a very good, if short term, fit. Given the state of the team, perhaps a short-term fit is all they need, while Genii contemplates it’s exit strategy over the next season or two.


Bernie is still running at 82 or so, however that isn’t a good thing. So 64 might be just a bit too old. How old is Ron Dennis by the way? Even if he doesn’t take the Team Principle title he would still be in charge. And he’s around the same age.


He’s had a great career in Motorsport and is 64. He probably doesn’t need the money. You never know, maybe a deal’s been made whereby he buys/gets given a shareholding in the team. That way he’ll work for nothing, which is good for Genii given their current state.


If he can take Lotus to winning ways I don’t think anyone would care about his age.


Wow, is this for real.

If whoever is best placed to do the job well, then age shouldn’t be a factor.


I think we past the point in our social evolution where we think that age somehow restricts ones intellect. You either competent or not. Lucky for Quesnel, F1 is full of incompetent people, or should I say Lotus? 🙂


How about Paul Stoddard? Not sure how old he is, but must be younger. He wanted to come back into F1 not so long ago. I know minardi wasn’t the most successful team, but did ok and he always had passion for the sport. I think he would fit in well at lotus, I do miss the minardi underdog cars on track and I think his approach could only bolster the team.


I would love to see him back. He was like a breath of fresh Aussie air!

Doubt if it will happen though.


I’ll tell you what. I’m only 63 so I’ll take the job and then the discussion is over!

More seriously. 64 and with loads of experience or some lad of, say, 45 with none. Which is the better bet?

And I happen to think that Claire Williams is precisely the right sex, but way too young for me!


Someone of 45 with no experience? Oh come on – if you’ve got 20+ years working experience I’d have hope you’d learned quite a lot.

Completely depends on the person’s willingness to learn from experience and to continually look to learn. Yes, age is a factor in experience, but 20+ years is plenty enough, and the law of diminishing returns surely applies.

Oh, and this guy at 64? If he’s the best man for the job then his age is not an issue.


OK, maybe I set the bar a bit high at 45. But I was trying to make a point. The point being that 64 is not too old to take on this sport of position as long as you have the experience to cope.

And, whatever you say, even at 45 you are unlikely to have had that much experience of working in motorsport at a high level. Certainly not 20 years because you will have spent most of your time working up to the high level positions.


There is certainly one old f*** who should have been put out to grass some years ago but Quesnel has many years to give yet and his experience would be very attractive to a sponsor.


Mr. Burns?

Valentino from montreal

Why is team called Lotus when their engine is a Renault , and the car is assembled in Benetton’s and F1 Renault’s previous factory ?


What would you like them to be called? Obviously they can’t use the name “Renault”, or for that matter “Benetton”. Perhaps they should go back to Toleman?


Renault wanted to step back from the frontlines after crashgate I think


Because the owners bought the team to sell and at the same time lotus was being funded by the proton brand and they was broke. Long story short, there was some hope the lotus cars co. Would be sold off cheap for Genii to buy and package it all. There was a sponsor deal that was worked to those ends, but got stopped by protons funders ie the government.

The lotus name is just that, a brand and its better to have a known name than one no one knows. I think that’s why?


I think it’s because “Team Enstone” signed a sponsorship deal with Lotus Cars plc (Hethel, Norfolk) and part of that sponsorship deal was that “Team Enstone” would be renamed Lotus and painted in the classic black and gold of the JPS cars of the 70s and 80s. Renault ceased to be a “works” team back in 2009/2010 if I remember correctly. I maybe wrong, but I think that’s the gist of it.


Because it has Lotus written on the side. 😉

Next question?


+1 to the 10th power !

They never earned the name or the legacy, Rather, they “bought” the “branding” and even that wasn’t a clear situation that required barristers, courts and ultimately, capitulation from the contesting party.

Mike from Colombia

Will never consider Wolff as the boss.

He has achieved nothing in motorsport and has merely been hanging onto the coat tails of others.


I think it’s more a question of flexibility than of age


Well when Ron Dennis took a step back from Mclaren in 2009, he was 61. Now he’s back at 66 years old even though not on the front line. I don’t think it’s a factor.

But then the counter argument is the effect on decision making as demonstrated by the differences between Norbert Haug (61 when removed) and Toto Wolff (42)


I think Ronspeak had to step down in 2009 after “lying-gate” at Melbourne and political pressure from his nemesis Max Mosley. Had Macca told the truth to the Melbourne stewards, it is possible Ronspeak would of continued in charge for some time. Interestingly, after Ronspeak departed from front line F1, Lewis never consistently scaled the dizzying heights of 2007/2008. Just saying…………..


Yeah I have similar and contrary theories but that’s a discussion for another day lol


Of course he’s not too old. He’s had a career of high achievement and the other F1 principals listed: Boullier, Domenicalli, Wolff, etc. haven’t won anything yet.


well, he’s also bold, like horner.

he’s also a man, like most of them.

he’s french, like some.

all of them factors, like age, that shouldn’t be considered when assessing anybody for a job.

Unless, of course, you want to be unfairly discriminating.

James, even asking the question is wrong, inmoral, irrelevant and, probably, unlawfull.


Sorry mate, have to disagree with your comments, James was asking perfectly reasonable and sensible questions. If I was working for Lotus, I would want to know if my new boss could speak AND think fluently in English, also does he have relevant F1 experience so that he can make good judgements. James was asking about his age because most of Lotus rival teams TPs are a lot younger and are therefore not thinking imminently about retirement and taking it easier in later life, as most people of his age would reasonably do. That’s not being ageist [sic], that’s just being down to earth and having common sense.

At the end of the day, good luck to him, but TPs such as Christian, Stefano, Paddy and Totto, Eric and Claire are very street wise, savvy operators and what you need is somebody cast from the same mold as them to beat them.

James if you’re reading, would love to hear what the likes of Our Nige, Mika and DC think about these new cars. Perhaps DC could do a test for the Beeb? Come on David, you know you want to!!!


“All of them factors, like age, that shouldn’t be considered when assessing anybody for a job”

True, in an ideal world everyone would be treated equally and chosen on merit, but unfortunately in the real world it happens all the time whether the employers acknowledge it or not.

Maybe it was an unfair question to ask, but to James’ credit at least it was asked bluntly and honestly.


He’s only 64 for crying out loud. Experience counts for more here. I bet there wouldn’t be an article about Brawn or Todt being too old!

Plus, it seems about 83 ish is when you maybe start having silly ideas 😉



100 (or even 50) years ago 64 would have been considered geriatric, but people generally live longer now.

He’s still a young fella 🙂


The real news from this article….

Toto Wolff is older than Eric Boullier & Cyril Abiteboul!?!

How is that possible?


I was surprised as well. Speaks well about Toto’s lifestyle.


“How is that possible?”

I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that was rhetorical, otherwise your parents have a lot of explaining to do 😉


I was raised by Bernie Ecclestone – everytime I asked about it I could never get a straight answxer. 🙂


Age, not a factor per se.

Experience in the Piranha Club, is much more relevant.

Many of us, I think, suspect that life at Lotus was not easy for Eric, having to balance on the dissolving financial foundation.

Tempered by fire.

This kind of experience is rare.

And the incumbent might have to do it for free, at the end of the year.

Good luck Lotus.


Well there’s still no sign of Bernie retiring!

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