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DATE News (chronologically)
02/11/14
f1
Lotus looking for a leader
The word in F1 circles is that Lotus is throwing its net far and wide looking for someone to replace Eric Boullier as the team principal at Enstone. At first glance it is not a great job to get, given the damage that has been done in the team in recent months. Teams cannot afford to lose 80 good people in quick succession because building great F1 organizations is not the work of a moment. It is a lot harder than people think. What is required now is someone who will stop the rot. Create confidence and start the process of rebuilding.

One would probably be wisest to look for someone with lots of experience who has worked in different teams and thus encountered lots of different people and can therefore judge who will fit best with whom. An old Lotus Enstone hand would help to calm down the fears there, but at the same time a team principal is only as good as his owners. If they do not deliver the goods then he is bound to struggle. On the other hand, it is a job with potential for a youngster because if everyone expects you to fail then the smallest improvement is seen as a success and one can build on that.

Gerard Lopez and his fellow owners at Lotus may talk about Martin Whitmarsh with his 25 years of F1 experience with a top team. This gives Martin enormous value. He is 55 and so is really too young to retire. By the same token the last few months have been pretty stressful and he might appreciate a rest. What he does not want is to go straight into a situation where he is working for owners who are not 100 percent sure of what they want and what they are trying to achieve.

Bringing in an outsider is fine if the person knows how to build teams. And once again a modern F1 team is a big enterprise. It is not 100 or so people in a factory. These are big and complicated organizations. Olivier Quesnel, the former motorsport boss of Citroen and Peugeot, has experience – although not in F1 – and there is also the question of whether or not it is most efficient to put a Frenchman in charge of a team that is largely English. That may sound silly in the modern age but it is something worth bearing in mind. Frenchmen and Englishmen have very different ways of doing business.

The choice is an important one because if the team has faith in the new appointee then progress can be made. If there is no confidence in the new man then the chances are the brain drain will continue. Joe Saward

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