JANUARY 25, 2014
McLaren, Lotus fight over major sponsor
In the context of the death of Jenson Button's father, a new spat between McLaren and Lotus is unlikely to rate high on his list of concerns.
As for whether losing his dad had caused him to even contemplate his future in F1, the 2009 world champion admitted: "Everything goes through your mind, that's all I have to say on it."
Button's grief coincides with a tumultuous period at his team, the famous British grandee McLaren, having emerged from the miserable 2013 season.
Gone now is the title sponsor Vodafone, but also missing at the launch of the MP4-29 on Friday was boss Martin Whitmarsh.
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," he said.
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 rumours 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.
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