Lotus driver Romain Grosjean has admitted him and his team’s “surprise” at Eric Boullier’s sudden move to McLaren.
The Frenchman, of whom Boullier is also his manager, was one of the surprise improvements in 2013 as he showed a much more mature approach to his racing, certainly much different to the one than earned the tag as a “first lap nutcase” from now Le Mans driver Mark Webber.
While some of that improvement was put down to Grosjean becoming a father off the track, most of it was also put down to the ‘father’ like figure Boullier took in helping the former GP2 champion.
Certainly with the potentially explosive combination of Romain and new team-mate Pastor Maldonado, who carries much the same reputation that Grosjean did, as well as having the biggest ‘pay driver’ tag on the grid, it was thought that perhaps having Boullier in charge could have a similar effect on the Venezuelan.
Alas however the announcement of Boullier tending his Lotus resignation and days later joining McLaren as Racing Director mean that won’t happen.
“It was big news and actually it surprised even us,” Grosjean is quoted by France’s Infosport Plus. “I think it’s a big opportunity for him and I understand that.
Though Grosjean’s future is secure at Lotus for now, the 27-year-old believes it is vital the Enstone based team find someone who is capable of filling the large hole Boullier’s departure left.
“Now we need to find someone to replace him at Enstone, because Eric led the team very well,” he added.
Much of the recent Lotus news has circulated around its financial issues with the team in over $100m of debt and owner Gerard Lopez having to dig deeper into his own pocket to keep the team alive.
However with the arrival of funds from Maldonado and several new sponsorship deals, Grosjean believes the future is bright for the team.
“We have gone through quite a difficult period,” he admitted, “but now things are going much better and it’s great.”
Grosjean was quoted by La Figaro as claiming that even during the height of Lotus’s financial troubles: “It did not stop us from being on the podium”.
“We were even the only ones who were standing up to Red Bull,” he insisted. “Now the budget is balanced and everything is in place.”
Certainly should Grosjean’s comments be true and Lotus are digging themselves out of the hole they were in, it could mark a key turning point for them as they were one of the only teams capable of battling Red Bull for at the end of the last year.
But replacing someone like Eric Boullier is much easier said than done.
As a result that will perhaps be the most important factor in how competitive Lotus can be in 2014 as of course will be Renault improving their currently malfunctioning engine unit.
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