Eric Boullier, Gerard Lopez, Lotus, Bahrain, 2013

Lopez takes over as Boullier leaves Lotus

2014 F1 season

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Eric Boullier, Gerard Lopez, Lotus, Bahrain, 2013Lotus has confirmed team principal Eric Boullier has left after four years with the team. Co-chairman Gerard Lopez will take over as team principal.

Rumours immediately linked Boullier to a move to McLaren, who are due to unveil their new car at noon today.

“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,” said Lopez.

“Lotus F1 Team has never stood still and we head into what promises to be an exciting 2014 season with an innovative new car, new partners and a new management structure at Enstone,” he added.

Lotus intend to reveal their new car, the E22, at the beginning of the Bahrain test on February 19th. Lopez also used the statement to announce a new sponsor, Yotaphone.

Boullier joins the list of key staff members which have left the team in the last 12 months, including designer James Allison and aerodynamicist Dirk de Beer who moved to Ferrari. Boullier joined the team in 2010, when it was called Renault.

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Keith Collantine
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77 comments on “Lopez takes over as Boullier leaves Lotus”

  1. If Ron Dennis really snatched Boullier away from Lotus I would say that is a really good move. Not so good news for Lotus and for their drivers, as Eric has been very supportive in helping Grosjean get on top of his skill, and would have surely been just what Maldonado needs as well.

    1. The Blade Runner (@)
      24th January 2014, 9:53

      Hmmm… If it were true then is it good or bad? I can’t decide!

      1. Is it confirmed / hinted to anywhere, that Boullier is going to Mclaren ?

        1. I think John Noble from Autosport mentioned it on twitter (as did others), but so far its speculation @il-ferrarista

          1. Yeah it’s the headline at that Eric will be the Maclaren TP so I’d say it’s more than rumour.

            Pretty damn interesting.

            Sad for Whitmarsh, but he’s really too much of a Nice Guy to be in that position.

      2. I am pretty sure its great news for McLaren (if true) and a big setback for Lotus, especially at this time when everything is tight to get the car out on track.

        1. The Blade Runner (@)
          24th January 2014, 9:59

          Lotus, with well known financial issues, had a decent car last year and even looked like contenders early on. How much of that is down to Boullier? I guess, if McLaren appoint him, then we know the answer to that question

          1. @thebladerunner I’d say not a lot on the car front. That was Allison’s work.

            Boullier is a driver manager. Ron might have dangled the carrot to give Magnussen a solid start.

    2. Surely it must be something along those lines as I can’t imagine Lotus would get rid of Boullier by thier own choice considering how many others have left already.

      I think he’d do a good job at McLaren.

    3. I don’t think it is a good or bad decision if that is the case nevertheless it’s Ron Dennis we’re talking about, so he’ll just be a the face of the team as it happens with RBR, not the puppeteer.

    4. Death by a thousand cuts. Sad.

  2. I would prefer a Dennis/Brawn combo, it will either be fireworks or…fireworks, either way it would be compelling viewing .,

    1. Maybe that’s the dream scenario, a dream team of senior managers. But really, I think it could develop to almost the same situation we had in 2007 between the drivers.

      Yes a Ross Brawn would be an enormous asset for Mclaren, but will Big Ron tolerate him? Two competitive and hardcore roosters with big enough egos in the same team, ..I’m not sure. Boullier on the other hand is a safer bet, at least I would say so.

      1. I think you are right on that there @il-ferrarista, Ross Brawn would never want to work with Ron Dennis looking over his shoulder. And Ron Dennis is not the guy to give Brawn the space to work on his own.

        1. Ross Brawn to Haas GP, you heard it here first!

          1. That would a good way to start their F1 adventure.

          2. Ross Brawn to Lotus. You heard it here first!

  3. Boullier is probably my fav team principal. Looks like he jumped ship before it sank ;-)

  4. Lotus really have been left dead in the water by all it’s key personnel leaving…. They all obviously know something we don’t. Every week there’s something else having me thank the F1 Gods for pointing Hulkenburg in a different direction.

    1. “Every week there’s something else having me thank the F1 Gods for pointing Hulkenburg in a different direction”

      And at the time we thought it was a bad decision. But now… Force India looks like heaven.

      1. We certainly did, I ripped my hair out over it but now I’m very carefully gluing it back onto my sore scalp.

        1. I did too, unfortunately I don’t have any glue! Can I borrow yours @kartingjimbo ?

    2. Agreed, at first i was gutted for Hulkenberg but it looks like Lotus may be a sinking ship….

    3. I’d say they probably know what most of us assume.

    4. Yeah it’s a shame that such a promising small team has been almost bled dry of top talent. It’s been blow after blow for them since the end of the season. Still, this has happened before in the teams history and they’ve managed to bounce back. Hopefully they can do it again.

    5. Indeed.

      If EB is moving to McLaren and if either Magnussen or Button fail to impress this season and Grosjean has another strong season, then Grosjean could be in a good position to join McLaren Honda…

    6. “They all obviously know something we don’t.”
      I bet it’s the lack of payment for their work.

  5. I feel like I’m the only one that isn’t a fan of Boullier, not entirely sure why I’m not either. Guess I should wipe the slate clean in my mind and form a new opinion.

    1. @disjunto, your not alone, I don’t like they guy very much either. To start with, i though he did a great job, cause it isn’t easy to fight with the big teams on a limited budget. Besides he made some bold decisions, like giving Grosjean another change, which in the end paid off. But then the last year or so, Boullier has been talking alot of ** at times. Things he didn’t need to say, things to make others look bad. Like another team not showing up for testing. A typical statement so show his ego, show how much he knows in the paddock ..and then he got that wrong too..

      1. I’m not a big fan either to be honest although maybe he is a good team principal. But as for giving Grosjean another chance, i thought that was generous too…until i found out he was Grosjean’s manager! Clear conflict of interest surely.

        1. @keithedin

          Clear conflict of interest surely.

          Maybe, but it paid off. When Grosjean is at the top of his game, he’s better than Kimi.

          However, how does it goes on? Can he be TP of McLaren and Grosjeans manager?

          1. @paeschli why not? if Kevin spoils it, or if Jenson fades, he can lure Grosjean somehow into McL… wait, too much speculation because nobody knows if Boulier is really going to McLaren.

    2. This came up ages ago and quite a few were against Boullier. I think he came into the sport and took a while to stamp his influence. He looked out of his depth with drivers like Grosjean and lots of mistakes with the car (those weird exhausts at the front of the car etc).

      It has to be said though that over time, he built up a good team around him and got Grosjean to a stage where he was competitive against Kimi.

      He had no experience of running an F1 team until he joined Lotus but overall, I think he’s done a good job considering one of his drivers was Grosjean and the other was Kimi who wasn’t getting paid! I wouldn’t fancy managing that situation!!!!!

  6. McLaren please, please don’t employ this guy. Whitmarsh is bad enough.

    1. Out of interest, what has he done that would make him worse than Whitmarsh? I’m just interested why people don’t like him.

    2. The Blade Runner (@)
      24th January 2014, 10:29

      He seems to have waved a magic wand over Grosjean. From “first lap nutcase” to one of the most talented drivers on the grid… all in one season.

      1. That’s a little unfair on Grosjean – that’s how some of the commentators and a lot of uninformed fans saw it, but really Grosjean had been demonstrating for years just how good he was, before he got into F1. For some reason things didn’t gel for him at first, and in trying to make things happen for himself he got into a few accidents. He’s managed to work out whatever was causing him to drive like that, and is now back to being able to harness the talent he showed in GP2 and before. For years he’s been trumpeted as a genuine talent for the future so it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that he’s now delivering on that potential.

        1. The Blade Runner (@)
          24th January 2014, 11:39

          I think you read more into my comments than was meant!

          Firstly, the quote is obviously Mark Webber’s, not mine. Secondly, surely good management played a part in Grosjean’s transformation? The very act of standing by him following his horrendous 2012 hints that Bouillier was intrinsic to what came next.

    3. Whitmarsh has always been a nice bloke and a solid manager. Not many reasons to hate him, but yes he’s probably not the most results-oriented out there.

  7. Surely his Lotus contract would have a Non Compete cause for a period of time. To stop him taking all their secrets to McLaren?

    1. Who knows, if they failed to pay him for the last couple of months, any such contract would be void Mark

    2. Or he may be out of contract – his original contract was announced in January.

      1. True enough, yeah. And I think there were some rumours of Boullier leaving in November/december – maybe that was when he decided not to renew his contract

        1. @bascb Boullier immediately denied those rumors and about a week after that Lotus showed a picture of Maldonado being in the factory, and Eric was there too. He even retweeted Lotus announcing the Saxo-deal this week!

  8. Wonder if @Lotus_F1Team are tempted to bring out the bunnies mating image after Boullier screwed them over..

  9. Hm, after McLaren managed to put out a funny tweet this week, I feared that the Lotus twitter guy had moved as well. But then I saw this one today proving they are still on it (cheeky reference towards McLaren for poaching Eric, as well as for having only a virtual launch)

    1. @bascb thanks for the link, hahaha! Good spirit!

  10. Even if he does go to McLaren, he won’t be able to much this year. He will spend the first half the season learning how the team works, who does what. Then in the second half they will preparing for the partnership with Honda to kick in.

    I guess, this is all part of the big plan McLaren have for 2015. Honda, Ron, Eric, Kevin and a few other they have already poached and will poach within the next season.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if they spent the year trying parts, developing concepts, collecting data for Honda and working on Kevin Magnussen.They might be taking 2014 as a “learning” season.
    (Don’t get me wrong, I am sure they will their best to fight for the championship as well)

    1. @brunes

      Maybe they are trying to ‘do a Mercedes’ and build up a sort of mega team for a set year for a title challenge?

    2. and Romain?

  11. If Boullier could talk some sense into Maldonado the way he turned Grojean, Lotus would gain a great driver. Perhaps McL, Merc, RB and Ferrari pooled to pay B. a nice holiday in some tropical paradise :-).

    1. Grosjean was just clumsy or hot headed, not a brain dead psychopath.

  12. This just shows again how much rubbish and pr talk we have during the off season. It was just last month when Mr Boullier said he is not going anywhere link

    It seems that everyone from Lotus is going and the only reason might be the fact that they are not getting paid. It is Mr Lopez´s team so he can now run it, Grosjean looks like a guy who is just fine to drive for free and Maldonado on the other hand has that Venezuelan backing. But I don’t know if they can run a team between them, will be interesting to see if they even will be on the grid this year.

    1. maybe there’s a connection to dennis taking over at McLaren – surely that wasn’t something boullier would’ve known about last month, in advance…

  13. Grosjean to McLaren? You heard it here first.

    1. Chandok to McLaren? You heard it here first.

    2. That’s a good point. McLaren has hired Magnussen and expect him to be the new Hamilton while openly talking about getting Alonso on board for 2015 so pressure in on Jenson Button. If they fail to get Alonso and Grosjean keeps impressing, he would be a good choice for 2015.

    3. Let’s wait to see what Grosjean does this season first. He’s was highly impressive last season of course. Now if the E22 is more of a midfield car which won’t allow either driver to fight for podiums, will Grosjean be able to keep his cool or will there be flashes of his 2012 self?

  14. Wasn’t it like a month ago when Eric said he is going nowhere from Lotus?

    1. Yeah he tweeted that in December. Though all he said was that he hasn’t resigned and he hasn’t had an offer. It didn’t negate the possibility of both being in the pipeline at that point.

  15. Boullier was in a very difficult position for most of last season. The team had no money, couldn’t pay Number 1 driver – lost Number 1 driver, prospect of landing major sponsor/partner was disappearing like mist, key personnel were moving onward and upward. Very hard work just to stand still or even to survive.
    Why stay? McLaren or no McLaren.

  16. Completely off topic but… When did Lotus sign a contract for Renault engines?

  17. Is Lopez really the right person for the job though? I don’t think so.. Not sure if a promotion for Permane may have been better, Or if there was anyone else who could have filled the gap better..

    1. Good point about Lopez. What are his qualifications to be a team principal, besides being Co-chairman of Lotus? Businessman, yes. Racer? Not so much.

      Agree on Permane. He may have talked himself out of the job with his performance last season.

  18. Steph (@stephanief1990)
    24th January 2014, 12:37

    I don’t get the hate for Whitmarsh. Dennis won one title during the 2000s if memory serves. Whitmarsh has to take over in 09 with a bad car after the whole Australia fiasco, they were the second best car in 2010, they were better than Ferrari in 2011 and 2012. The problem isn’t Whitmarsh- it’s Red Bull and McLaren have done a fairly decent job of poaching staff away from that team.

  19. I’d be hard pressed to name an F1 principal who’s done better than Boullier at getting optimal results out of minimal resources (all things beings relative to F1 in using words like ‘minimal’, of course) in recent years. He seems like an extremely bright and very probably shrewd man – qualitites, I imagine, a guy like Ron Dennis appreciates in a team principal. If he’s named to McLaren, that’s a major coup in my eyes.

  20. And come to think of it, Boullier to McLaren would pave the way nicely for a Grosjean-Magnussen pairing in 2015.

    1. @maciek I’d prefer to see Button last until 2016 and then be replaced by Vandoorne :)

  21. Shock news for me.

    Initially, I thought Boullier may have been sacked because of the total balls-up trying to secure financial backing from that very shady-looking character, Mansoor Ijaz.

    If McLaren have managed to poach Boullier, then Lotus must be financially almost finished. I doubt Boullier would leave Louts otherwise. He seems to have put his heart and soul into that team.

    Either way, it’s very sad for Lotus. A very exciting “new” team. I really hope things don’t go bad for them. It was great to have another top-running team in the championship.

    1. That wasn’t Boullier’s doing. The economical agreements of the team are more Lopez business. Boullier was just running the race team and i think a good reason he left is because he got sick trying to nurse cash problems(losing drivers, staff, people shouting for their salary etc) because Lopez wasn’t delivering the moneys.

  22. One of the problems Lotus have now isn’t Boullier leaving, but Lopez becoming is successor as a Team Principal. I only thought of him as a businessman, who only wandered around the team because of Genii. So the question is: is he the right person for the job? Does he have the ability to do a good job in such an important position? I want to think so, because the Lotus team have been a pleasant surprise in these last few years, and it would be a disastre for them if they just collapsed due to all their important people leaving the team.

    1. Probably good on the management side and weak on the racing side. Maybe they couldn’t afford a real team principal.

      1. Hopefully on the financial side things will start to get sorted out…

  23. Well, I for one never liked Boulliere so I´m glad he´s out….

  24. A not so difficult to make prediction: At some point in the future we may get news that Boullier was also not paid by Lotus. As team principal he may have kept that under wraps for obvious reasons. Also could be the reason for Lopez taking the job, so he doesn’t have to hire someone else.

  25. If I was getting all the blame for other peoples’ mishaps like unpaid salaries and botched investment deals, I’d want to leave too.

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