The internal turmoil and uncertainty at Lotus has been capturing headlines for several months, while McLaren’s unexpected ‘civil war’ broke out a few weeks ago and since then has been a huge topic of debate – now the two teams are at loggerheads over team principals and a big money title sponsor.
A few days before the 2014 preseason testing gets underway, both teams are without a Team Principal and neither has the name of a title sponsor on their new cars.
In the McLaren corner, gone now is their high profile partnership with Vodafone, but also missing at the launch of the MP4-29 on Friday was boss Martin Whitmarsh.
Nevertheless Jenson Button welcomed the return to power of company supremo Ron Dennis, “For me that’s the exciting thing about this year. And you do need change sometimes.”
Multiple authoritative sources all agree that Whitmarsh’s certain successor is Eric Boullier, the newly-departed Lotus Team Principal. That move has ruffled some feathers at Enstone.
Indeed, in what was widely interpreted as a spoiling move, Lotus chose the precise minute that McLaren’s 2014 car was revealed to publish the first photo of its own new single seater, the E22.
And, defiantly hinting at Boullier’s choice of next job, the team said on Twitter that the Frenchman’s parting gift is a copy of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.
Now, the respected Auto Motor und Sport correspondent Michael Schmidt claims that a leading contender to succeed Boullier at Lotus is none other than Whitmarsh himself.
Schmidt also mentioned Ross Brawn as a contender, while reports on Twitter pointed to Craig Pollock, Jacques Villeneuve’s former manager, who may also be interested into buying into the Enstone based team.
Another reason for the animosity between McLaren and Lotus, according to Schmidt, is because the teams are both in talks with the same major potential sponsor.
Lotus has reportedly entered the talks with a lower asking price, but the identity of the sponsor is currently not known.
“We only know that it is a Japanese technology company,” said Schmidt, speculating that it could be Sony. (GMM)