Michael and Boullier in the running to be new McLaren F1 boss

Sam Michael and Eric Boullier

Sam Michael and Eric Boullier

Martin Whitmarsh will not be present as McLaren’s 2014 car is launched, amid speculation he is out the door of the Woking based outfit with Sam Michael and now Eric Boullier in contention for the role of Team Principal.

The launch absence will effectively confirm Briton Whitmarsh’s demise, following what the Telegraph describes as the “internal coup” that led to McLaren supremo Ron Dennis regaining full control.

Sporting director Sam Michael is being tipped to step into the Team Principal role, after the 42-year-old Australian – and not Whitmarsh – was quoted in the statement announcing Stoffel Vandoorne as 2014 reserve.

“Whitmarsh has not even been in the team’s Woking headquarters since Ron Dennis wrested back overall control of Formula 1 affairs last week,” reports Daily Mail correspondent Jonathan McEvoy.

McEvoy tipped Whitmarsh to be “shuffled to another post within McLaren Group or out of the door altogether after five disappointing years in charge”.

Meanwhile 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 reports that he was set to quit as the Lotus Team Principal, insisting that everything was “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 1 over the seasons ahead.”

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

But the Lotus statement on Friday said that 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 1 in every sense,” the statement added.(GMM)

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