McLaren rumors fire as Boullier leaves Lotus (4th Update)

UPDATE #4

Eric Boullier confirmed at McLaren

This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' today. McLaren have announced Eric Boullier as their new Racing Director as part of a shake-up of the team's management structure.

Boullier's appointment confirms speculation that he would join the Woking team, which has been rife since last week when Lotus announced that team owner Gerard Lopez was taking over from the Frenchman.

Almost immediately, the 40-year-old was linked to McLaren. However, Boullier has not been installed as Team Principal. Instead, he will work alongside Jonathan Neale, who has been appointed Chief Operating Officer, and other senior management staff.

According to McLaren, they in turn will 'ultimately report to the Chief Executive Officer of McLaren Racing, an all-new position, whose yet-to-be-appointed occupant will in turn report directly to Ron Dennis (Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Group)'.

The team's statement made no mention of Martin Whitmarsh, who was appointed Team Principal at McLaren in 2009 and whose role has disappeared as part of the shake-up.

"First of all, I regard this appointment as an honor, a privilege and a wonderful opportunity," said Boullier, who was team boss at Lotus for four seasons.

"The McLaren Racing workforce and the facilities at the McLaren Technology Centre are world-class, and I'm hugely excited about the prospect of joining such an outstanding team.

"I'm both eager and determined to play an active part, working alongside McLaren Racing's other senior managers and directors, within a new operational structure, to bring about the changes that will deliver success.

"Last, I want to take this opportunity to assure the McLaren Racing workforce that I'm utterly determined to match their famous passion and commitment to win."

The changes were instigated by Dennis, who was re-installed as CEO of the McLaren Group two weeks ago. His decision to take more responsibility for the team's performance came after a poor performance on track last season, when they failed to secure a podium finish for the first time since 1980.

"Eric's appointment is an integral part of a senior management restructure within McLaren Racing," said Dennis.

"I've already personally conveyed to the entire workforce of the McLaren Group, which includes McLaren Racing, the values, principles and mindset that I intend us all to adopt, going forward. My intention is that from now on everyone at McLaren Racing will understand their responsibilities and accountabilities, focusing on their specific areas of expertise, in keeping with those values, principles and mindset.

"In due course we'll announce the identity of McLaren Racing's new Chief Executive Officer, who'll report to me, and to whom Eric will report.

"I'm firmly of the belief that, once McLaren Racing's restructured senior management team has been assembled, together we'll begin the march back to full competitiveness, quickly and professionally, harnessing the fantastic depth of talent that exists within our organization." Sky Sports

01/26/14 While a certain amount of speculation linking former Lotus team principal Eric Boullier with McLaren is to be expected, claims that the Frenchman will attend this week’s Jerez test are wide of the mark.

Contacted by Pitpass a McLaren spokesman rubbished the suggestion that Boullier will be at Jerez "with" his team.

"No, as is the case with a small but irritating number of so-called news stories on minor Formula 1 websites written by people who rarely check anything, that's utter nonsense," was the instant response when asked if there is any truth to the story.

01/26/14 The news that Eric Boullier has left Lotus F1 Team is not really a surprise. The team has been badly messed up by its owners in recent months, as they scramble to try to find the money to make it work. The answer, as every racer knows, is not to bring in an accountant and slash costs, which is effectively what has been done (twice), but to accelerate out of the trouble by finding money and thus keeping the staff happy, feeling secure and suitably motivated. Losing the best people is a disaster because it becomes a downward spiral unless something is done to stop it.

It is yet to be confirmed but Boullier seems to be on his way to McLaren, which is a good move for him and a very astute one from Ron Dennis. Martin Whitmarsh did not do a bad job – and he was not helped by politicking to get him out – but with a team like McLaren, not winning is a good enough excuse, particularly in this era when the team principals have become more and more like football team managers.

They get paid a lot, and enjoy a lot of publicity, but they are there to win and if they do not, they get the bullet. In the days when the team principals were team owners things were a little different. Boullier has won much admiration in the F1 paddock for his ability to keep an English team going when things have not been easy. One can say that James Allison was an important player at one point but the team continued to perform well long after he had left.

Boullier’s strength is his passion for the sport, which has seen him rise through the ranks from a lowly starting point, washing wheels with a sports car team. In this respect he is very like some of the other prime movers at McLaren, notably Ron Dennis himself. Passion is the spark that makes F1 team’s successful while the fuel for that success comes from great engineering and the right structure, so that people know who they are answering to.

The fact that Gerard Lopez has had to step in and become team principal himself is curious. He has no real qualifications for the job, his expertise is in corporate wheeling and dealing rather than in managing F1 people. One can only wonder why this has happened. One can see that perhaps he wants to keep a high profile now that Andrew Ruhan has taken on a bigger role in the team. It is clear that Lopez enjoys the profile that F1 brings him. The other element to consider is that the team was unable – in the short term – to find a suitable replacement to Boullier, but did not want to leave the post open. Joe Saward

01/25/14 Sources from McLaren have spoken to F1Today.net and revealed that Eric Boullier will attend the Jerez test with the team.

The Frenchman has been linked with the role of Team Principal at the Woking-based squad after stepping down from the same role at the cash-strapped Lotus team on Friday morning, with Gerard Lopez announced as his replacement.

After a management shake-up at McLaren, with Ron Dennis reassuming his Executive role within the team, it is widely speculated that Whitmarsh would not continue as Team Principal in 2014.

Driver, Jenson Button commented on the idea of Boullier joining the team; "He's based in the UK. There are a lot of British people working here but there are also a lot of people from around the world that work at McLaren.

They do not pick people on their nationalities here, they pick them on how skilled and qualified they are, how good they are at their job."

McLaren unveiled the MP4-29 online yesterday, however no announcement was made regarding any management changes.

01/24/14 (GMM) Eric Boullier has leapt into hot contention to be McLaren's new team boss, after leaving Lotus with immediate effect.

In December, the Frenchman angrily slammed rumors he was set to quit as Lotus' team principal, insisting everything is "quite normal" at the Enstone team.

But that was before Ron Dennis took back full control of the British grandee McLaren, throwing the future of current team boss Martin Whitmarsh into huge doubt.

Lotus confirmed early on Friday that Frenchman Boullier is departing immediately, to be replaced as boss by team owner Gerard Lopez.

"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 one over the seasons ahead."

As well as fuelling the strong McLaren rumors, Boullier's Lotus exit casts further doubt on the future of the financially-struggling Enstone team.

But the Lotus statement on Friday said more new sponsors will be announced when the 2014 car is launched at the Bahrain test early next month.

"The team management, car and partner portfolio will illustrate the team's will and desire to continue its quest to become one of the strongest teams in formula one in every sense," the statement added.

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