Lopez replaces Boullier as Lotus F1 principal

Fri Jan 24, 2014 6:13am EST
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - Gerard Lopez replaced Frenchman Eric Boullier on Friday as principal of the unsettled Lotus Formula One team.

The timing of the news immediately triggered speculation that Boullier could be heading to McLaren, who were due to launch their 2014 car later in the day in an online presentation.

McLaren, who had a miserable 2013 season without a single podium finish, have yet to say who will lead their team after Martin Whitmarsh lost his position of overall group chief executive to his returning predecessor Ron Dennis.

Whitmarsh has been silent following last week's "coup", with other senior McLaren employees quoted in press releases since then.

"Gerard Lopez, will combine his position on the board with the role of Team Principal with immediate effect," Lotus said in

a statement that barely mentioned Boullier other than to thank him for his four-year contribution in the final paragraph.

Lotus were successful on track last season but struggled financially off it, with talk of significant investment from the Middle East that never materialized.

Despite the cash flow problems, they won with Kimi Raikkonen in Australia and finished fourth overall and ahead of McLaren.   Continued...