McLaren and Lotus showed off their cars for the upcoming Formula One season on the internet on Friday amid speculation of a move by team principal Eric Boullier.
The new cars, McLaren’s silver MP4-29 and the predominantly black Lotus E99, show the mandatory aerodynamics changes with a lower nose which extends beyond a smaller front wing.
New regulations also include a V6 turbo engine for the season which starts on March 16 with the Australian Grand Prix.
Lotus said on Friday that co-chairman Gerard Lopez has taken over the role of team principal and thanked Boullier for his four-year spell on that job.
“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 One over the seasons ahead,” Lopez said in the statement.
Boullier is tipped to take the same position at McLaren in place of Martin Whitmarsh but McLaren declined to comment on this issue on Friday.
“We will not be talking about the identity of our team principal today,” a McLaren spokesman told DPA.
While naming the design of the new car “a sensible and calculated response to the new regulations” the Mclaren statement did not include comments from Whitmarsh, who took the team principal job in 2009 from Ron Dennis.
Dennis recently replaced Whitmarsh as McLaren Group CEO and aims to make the team competitive again after a modest fifth-place finish last season.
McLaren last won a world title in 2008 from Lewis Hamilton, who is now at Mercedes. Their current drivers are the 2009 champion Jenson Button and Danish newcomer Kevin Magnussen.
“Obviously, we want to get back to the front. We want to have a better season than we did in 2013, too,” Button said.
“But it’s really difficult to accurately predict anything right now — these are such huge changes that they’ll have a massive impact on the competitive order, so we need to wait and just see how things shake out.” McLaren are in their 20th and last season with Mercedes as engine suppliers. Returning Honda will power the team from 2015 onwards.
Lotus are represented by Frenchman Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela, the latter taking the place of the 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen, who has returned to Ferrari.
The Frenchman Boullier joined the team in 2010 and despite financial problems led Lotus to fourth-place finishes in the last two constructors’ lists.
Lotus will not officially present and drive the E22 until the second round of pre-season tests February 19—22 in Bahrain.
They miss the first four-day tests from Tuesday onwards in Jerez, Spain, because “it is not ideal for our development programme,” according to technical director Nick Chester in early January. Three rounds of testing are scheduled overall.
Ferrari will unveil their car Saturday (after announcing Friday that it will be named F14T as result of an online poll among fans), while world champions Red Bull and runners—up Marcedes will not show the car until Tuesday start of testing.
In order to help the teams get used to the new rules, the Strategy Group of the ruling body FIA agreed on Thursday to give them six so-called curfew “jokers” each instead of the previous two, pending approval from the F1 Commission and the teams.
F1 has a six-hour curfew which lasts until three hours before the day’s first session, and eight hours on a Thursday. The jokers allow teams to work on the cars during this curfew.
The group also decided on five-second penalties at the meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, and that these penalties can be taken before work is carried out on a car during a pit stop. Up to now, race stewards could only impose drive-through penalties, which cost a racer around 20 seconds.
The meeting, which included F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, FIA president Jean Todt and team representatives, also agreed to present a cost-cutting plan to the World Motor Sport Council in June, for introduction in 2015.