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ENSTONE, England (AP) - Gerard Lopez took over as the team principal of Lotus on Friday as a replacement for Eric Boullier, fuelling widespread media reports that the Frenchman is on the move to Formula One rival McLaren.

Lopez will combine his new role with his previous position of co-chairman at Lotus, which had a strong season on the track last year despite financial problems off it.

"Lotus ... has never stood still and we head into what promises to be an exciting 2014 season with an innovative new car, new partners and a new management structure," Lopez said in a statement. "Great things have been achieved over the past years and we need to continue this momentum."

The statement didn't mention what was next for Boullier, who has been heavily linked with the team principal position at McLaren following Ron Dennis' return as chief executive last week.

"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," the statement continued.

Lotus finished fourth in the constructors' standings and Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean finished fifth and seventh, respectively, in the drivers' championship.

With Raikkonen having switched to Ferrari, Pastor Maldonado will be Grosjean's partner this season.

Lotus said it will announce the arrival of new commercial partners and sponsors when it unveils its 2014 car- the E22- at the first preseason test in Bahrain in February.


(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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