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MOTORSPORT: Show must go on, says Lotus chief
4:50pm Wednesday 29th January 2014 in Sport
Lotus owner Gerard Lopez insists the show must go on despite the shock departure of team principal Eric Boullier to Formula 1 rivals McLaren.
Boullier, 40, who resigned last Friday from the Enstone-based team to take up a similar position at the Woking-based marque, will replace Martin Whitmarsh, who was ousted after Ron Dennis staged an internal coup by returning to his former position as the team’s group chief executive officer.
Lopez, whose company Gen-ii Capital owns the outfit, will take on the position of team principal, as well as co-chairman alongside minor shareholder Andy Ruhan. “We thank Eric for all his hard work over the past four years,” said Lopez.
“And we are confident we can continue to fight as one of the top teams in Formula 1 over the seasons ahead.”
Lotus were successful on the track last season, but struggled financially off it, with talk of investment from the Middle East that never materialised.
The Finn left two races before the end of the season in a dispute over unpaid salary.
Lopez said earlier this month that the 34-year-old Finn had now been paid some of the outstanding money and would receive the rest.
The owner had also admitted that Lotus had £114m of debt, but insisted their future was not in doubt.
Their financial problems meant they were unable to sign German Nico Hulkenberg as a teammate for Romain Grosjean.
Instead, they employed ex-Williams driver Pastor Mald-onado, who brings with him in the region of £30m of sponsorship from Venezuela’s state oil company.
Lopez added: “Lotus F1 Team has never stood still and we head into what promises to be an exciting season with an innovative new car, new partners and a new management structure at Enstone.
“Great things have been achieved and we need to continue this momentum.”
The first race of the season is the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 16.