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After suffering one the worst years in team history, McLaren are poised to start the process of rebuilding their Formula 1 team and the first move is to replace current team boss, Martin Whitmarsh.

While speculation centered on a possible return to F1 for former Mercedes boss Ross Brawn, today’s Lotus F1 announcement may have given us a clearer picture of what it happening at McLaren.

Lotus released a statement saying:

“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.”

This means that team boss Eric Boullier has left the building, just like a host of engineers and even their star driver, Kimi Raikkonen. One wonders just how long Lotus F1 has for the F1 world.

This means that most F1 pundits believe Boullier is packing his bags for Woking and will replace Whtimarsh as group CEO, Ron Dennis, starts cleaning house in an effort to realign McLaren with their winning heritage.

No word yet from McLaren on Boullier’s appointment but the Frenchman did a masterful job of running a team on a shadow of a budget and competing at the top level over the past four years. He’s even managed to look like Oliver Platt while doing so.

So are McLaren sensing some changes? Managing Director Jonathan Neale told AUTOSPORT:

“For those that know Ron he is as fired up as he ever has been,” said Neale. “[He is] more passionate now than ever.

“He is excited about the changes we have ahead of us. He is very operational with us in the business, he has a very strong vision about the brand and the values, and not just about making sure McLaren is totally focused on winning, but how we win.

“There is that way that McLaren go about things. And if ever there was somebody who had a strong vision and a sense of true north and how it is to win in F1 and why that is important, he has got it in spades. It is exciting times.”

With Honda coming on board in 2015, many considered Ross Brawn and his Honda ties a possible candidate but perhaps Lotus F1 might wish to speak with the fly fishing Englishmen should Genii Capital and new team boss, Gerard Lopez, get overwhelmed. It is a bit odd to have a person in charge of a venture capital company now running an F1 team, let’s be honest…things are not looking good at Lotus F1.

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Brian

    Great move for Boullier. I guess he didn’t want to be apologizing ever time Maldonado crashes into someone.

    • andymidnite

      I think you mean ‘pitchforks’ into someone judging by that nose.

      • dude

        Let’s be real, the nose looks like a phallus.

  • TableRock

    The new Lotus nose is actually a benefit to Pastor, when he wrecks it will double as a forklift!

  • Mr. Obvious

    Will British fans be cool with a Frenchman running the flagship team of British motorsport?

    • @_Canuck_

      C’mon man they use German engines is a french man worse?

      • Glen

        More a double whammy.

  • charlie w

    And with that announcement, LotusF1 is done. All the major players on this team have departed.

    • peterriva

      I have to agree. And the Swiss papers are still wondering if Kimi will get paid.

  • shrug

    kimi gets criticized for leaving Lotus after not being paid and even indicating he was willing to settle for a quarter of what he was owed (5 million dollars)… Nothing is being said about the exodus at Lotus now… the rest aren’t greedy ungrateful shits?
    hmmm… the strange world of fan – dom.

    • peterriva

      Absolutely right!

  • Rapierman

    The first thing that crossed my mind: Grosjean is so screwed right now.

    • Michael in Seattle

      You’ve got that about right.
      As my Great Aunt Emmy used to say, ‘Oy, gevalt!”

      • Meine

        She was german?

  • Tom Firth

    With Mclaren’s launch having interviews from Jonathan Neale, Sam Michael and the drivers although not from Martin Whitmarsh on the Youtube launch page, it speaks volumes.

    As for Lotus, It struck me as odd that the morning the announcement of Boullier leaving came, Lotus released what seemed to be a surprising render of the 2014 contender to the public. It might of being planned whilst the world was waiting for the Mclaren launch but it does seem a little coincidental and a way to bury bad news.

  • Shocks&Awe

    Are we sure Boullier didn’t just get canned because of the inverted nostril nose design? I suppose everyone is saying he’s going to McLaren because somebody knows something, but there’s been zero confirmation that I’ve been able to find, and I haven’t even seen anyone reference any source for the speculation that he’s going to McLaren. It all seems to come from an autosport opinion that he’d be a great choice.

  • Schmorbraten

    Before the story of Boullier’s replacement broke, Joe Saward was right on it regarding Whitmarsh’s successor: http://joesaward.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/the-role-of-team-principal-at-mclaren/ – his reasoning was that Dennis would’ve revealed the new team principal right away if it was Ross Brawn or someone from within McLaren, hence it’s probably someone who wasn’t free yet, so “there will be an explosion brewing somewhere else which might give us the answer that we are looking for.”

  • Jack Flash (Aust)

    It is strongly rumoured that Eric Boullier, like a lot of Lotus F1 employees in 2013, didn’t get paid anywhere near their contracted arrangements. Autosport some time ago suggested Eric Boullier (like Kimi Räikkönen) was getting a mere fraction of salary payments from Lotus F1. So IF Lotus F1 were in clear breach of contract, as this situation would suggest they would be, Eric Boullier would not be under any obligations to be put onto ‘gardening leave’ before taking up a new role elsewhere. Exit clauses to contract like that would become null-and-void if Lotus F1 failed to remunerate Eric as contracted.

    Given this likely ‘contract default’ scenario… it would seem almost a certainty that Eric Boullier is moving to Woking, almost immediately as available. A great coup for Eric to be put into the helm of a flagship Formula 1 team like McLaren.

    But… as Paul (Rapierman) said above; I feel very sorry for Romain Grosjean left in the sinking ship that is Lotus F1
    ‘Fake Lotus’ is done for, kaput, dead in the water, waiting for God, pushing up the daisies. JF.

    • Tom Firth

      Lotus road cars isn’t in much better shape mate :(

      • Jack Flash (Aust)

        Yes. The snake-oil salesman that is Danny Bahar, left Proton with many grandiose (unrealistic) plans and massive debts for the Lotus Cars division, but nothing to show for it. Lotus Cars is treading water itself, I know.

        However, my dig a ‘Fake Lotus’ was about a team masquerading as the ye-olde Team Lotus F1. At least trying to fool anyone in the ‘global market’ who has had only a short-lived involvement in F1 (or none at all). Pfft… just another Bahar marketing/branding game of three-shells (find the Lady). JF

        • Tom Firth

          Yeah, With you 100% and Sadly Lotus cars trying to create sponsorship in every racing series on the planet whilst not concentrating on the core business of actually selling cars has being catastrophic.

    • bj

      Thanks for the insight. I was racking my brain trying to figure out why no gardening leave applied. Mind now at ease.

  • peterriva

    What are the chances Lotus won’t even turn up to race? or will fade quickly?
    Think about it…
    Boullier = not paid, left, maybe (certainly I would) suing.
    Kimi = not paid, suing.
    How many engineers, mechanics, staff are underpaid? Where the heck are the journalists here?
    Renault declaring that their main client is not Lotus (the old Renault) but Red Bull, then Toro Rosso AND then they mention Caterham???
    If Maldonado brings cash early (which he did not at Williams, they strung it out), people will dip into that barrel to get paid.
    When is Bernie paying up? That could be central to their whole possibilities for even starting to race.
    I’d say it’s 50/50 they will make it past the first practice, if that, the way things look today.

    • Jack Flash (Aust)

      Lotus’ Chief Race Engineer Cairon Pilbeam (ex Red Bull race engineer for Webber) has also left Lotus F1 apparently (another F1 website), to join McLaren. Package deal with Eric Boullier?

      I agree with you Peter. Not only rats are leaving this ship, so are the crew, the parrot and the cargo. It would appear that Lotus F1 will be lucky to make it to the Australian GP grid in 50 days time. They may not have a rolling chassis yet? Miss all tests days? Dire outlook. JF

  • Tuna

    Todd,

    I like and respect you greatly, but the article headline seems to read as if it were fact, while the article reads as if it’s pure speculation. It seems to have misled a lot of commenters. Personally, as a McLaren fan, I would love to see Ross Brawn there, but I wouldn’t mind Eric Boullier either.

    • Jack Flash (Aust)

      I agree the story title has a ‘journalistic licence’ about it, but I don’t see any of the F1B commenters being misled.
      All commenters show they know it isn’t a fact yet, until McLaren themselves declare their Team Principal for 2014.

      That said: the circumstances of Eric Boullier’s separation from Genii-Lotus F1, the timing, his performance success in a TP role, and the background contract issues allowing a no ‘gardening leave’ possibility, together all POINT toward the scenario of him being announced as ‘new 2014 McLaren TP’ becoming true. It isn’t unrealistic speculation. JF

      • Tuna

        Oh it’s absolutely not unrealistic. It did seem to me that a lot of commenters think it’s happening for sure, though. I’m glad you read it differently. :)

        • Jack Flash (Aust)

          Nothing is certain until Uncle Ron announces it’s so.
          I’m sure all F1B’ers know that too – title not withstanding. :) JF

    • JTW

      And don’t forget that Boullier will have to take the infamous six month ‘gardening’ leave before he could start with anyone.

      • Jack Flash (Aust)

        No. Not necessarily. That’s the point we’ve been making.
        If his contract T&C’s were broken by his employer Genii-Lotus F1 (ie. not paying him as agreed), then such contract exit clauses may become ‘null from effect’. Boullier possibly does not have a ‘gardening leave’ to serve at all under breach of contract circumstances by Lotus. JF

  • @_Canuck_

    Yes it’s a misleading headline they should stop doing that maybe end it with a question mark?

  • dude

    ” It is a bit odd to have a person in charge of a venture capital company now running an F1 team”

    Lotus should just hire Flavio, then Maldonado crashes would at least be justified and helpful for the team.

  • Copyshop attendant

    A “frog” heading the most british of F1 teams …. zzzhat iz going to be marvellous!!

  • CH

    Ron Dennis obviously has a record for success but personally I’ll be surprised if EB does as a good a job and is regarded as highly as Whitmarsh come the end of the season. And I just do not see chemistry with EB and the McLaren team. Saward’s blog notes that Ron has been trying for some time to oust Whitmarsh. Headstrong person he is, I am more surprised he did not take over the role himself rather than hire EB.

  • Jack Flash (Aust)

    It’s confirmed. Autosport just reported on McLaren announcement.
    Eric Boullier will join McLaren Racing Group as the ‘Racing Director’ who will report to the McLaren Racing CEO, who reports to the McLaren Group CEO Ron Dennis. The post of McLaren racing CEO is not yet formalised, but Jonathan Neale is expected to be caretaker of this role until a formal announcement is made.

    So, McLaren are not naming a “Team Principal” position. Eric Boullier as ‘Racing Director’ will manage the team and report to Racing CEO who reports to Group CEO Ron Dennis. Some management restructuring is going on, which will still give Ron Dennis a direct say in major decisions and strategic stuff in McLaren Racing it appears. Some ‘Team Principal’ autonomy of the past is being broken down here.
    Sounds exactly how you expect Uncle Ron to operate. He’s a control freak and all…. Jack Flash

    • Jack Flash (Aust)

      Oh… and Autosport also conjecture that Ross Brawn may be a candidate for the vacant McLaren Racing CEO position (temporarily filled as caretaker by McLaren Managing Director – Jonathan Neale). But I don’t see that as very likely.

      If Ross Brawn was to take on the McLaren Racing CEO role, he would have Eric Boullier – Racing Director answering to him (Okay), BUT… he himself would have to report directly to Ron Dennis – McLaren Group CEO. I cannot see Ross Brawn’s character being too enthused at being under Uncle Ron’s oppressive ‘control-freak’ thumb.

      I don’t see Ross Brawn in McLaren’s future. I would rather Ross Brawn went to Williams F1 and work alongside Frank and Claire to get that team back to where they should be in the Formula 1 pecking order. Jack Flash.