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The future of Martin Whitmarsh

NEWS STORY
28/01/2014

The suggestion that Martin Whitmarsh could join Lotus is an interesting proposition. Whitmarsh has vast experience as a Formula One team principal and the Enstone squad is currently without leadership since the resignation of Eric Boullier. Sure, Gerard Lopez has stepped in for the moment but Lopez is a businessman with interests away from Formula One that need attention, not to mention the fact he has no racing experience.

It is logical then that Whitmarsh, a qualified team principal at a loose end, is linked with a vacant position for which he is more than suitably qualified. Of course from Lotus' perspective it would also make sense to approach other potential candidates, if only as a back-up in case Whitmarsh spurned its advances. If Whitmarsh has been approached, and we know he has, it is not unreasonable to expect others have too.

A qualified mechanical engineer, Whitmarsh joined McLaren in 1989 as Head of Operations before moving on to become Managing Director and finally Team Principal after Ron Dennis stood down in 2009. For the past five years he has been the go-to guy, at least as far as McLaren's racing activities were concerned. At the age of 55 he has been handsomely rewarded for his efforts and has no need to work should he choose not to.

There is then no reason for him to simply accept an offer from Lotus, a team which is staring down the barrel of a number of challenges. Of most concern are the continual reports of financial problems, indeed Whitmarsh himself pillaged its technical ranks by luring Ciaran Pilbeam and Ettore Griffini to McLaren.

The challenge in leading Lotus out of its current financial plight and building it in to a genuine front-running team is not to be underestimated. It would be a difficult and high risk move for Whitmarsh, a man rather accustomed to a degree of success, and could in many ways be viewed as a backward step.

Who is to say however that a job at Lotus is the only way for Whitmarsh to remain in Formula One? Ross Brawn recently stepped down as team boss at Mercedes, and while it has Toto Wolff and Paddy Lowe neither are what one could consider a traditional team principal. While there is no suggestion an approach has been made it would not be difficult to imagine Whitmarsh heading to Brackley rather than Enstone if such an offer was laid on the table. He is after all an experienced team principal and has a working relationship with both Lewis Hamilton and Paddy Lowe, not to mention an association with Mercedes-Benz.

Of course this is assuming Whitmarsh wishes to carry on in Formula One. He could be happy to remain at McLaren, where he is still on the pay roll, albeit in a reduced role perhaps in another part of the broader McLaren Group.

Mat Coch

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by GoodPublicity, 28/01/2014 14:03

" 'Experienced' is one thing; 'successful' is another. If Lotus has the wherewithal to pay a team principal, then there are other candidates with more successful track records - Trevor Carlin springs to mind - and probably less lofty salary expectations.

"

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