Eric Boullier has leapt into hot contention to be McLaren's new team boss, after leaving Lotus with immediate effect.
In December, the Frenchman angrily slammed rumours he was set to quit as Lotus' team principal, insisting everything is "quite normal" at the Enstone team.
But that was before Ron Dennis took back full control of the British grandee McLaren, throwing the future of current team boss Martin Whitmarsh into huge doubt.
Lotus confirmed early on Friday that Frenchman Boullier is departing immediately, to be replaced as boss by team owner Gerard Lopez.
"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."
As well as fuelling the strong McLaren rumours, Boullier's Lotus exit casts further doubt on the future of the financially-struggling Enstone team.
But the Lotus statement on Friday said more new sponsors will be announced when the 2014 car is launched at the Bahrain test early next month.
"The team management, car and partner portfolio will illustrate the team's will and desire to continue its quest to become one of the strongest teams in formula one in every sense," the statement added.
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