Lotus, Romain Grosjean and Eric Boullier have paid tribute to Christophe de Margerie, the chief executive of Total who has been killed in a plane crash at the age of 63.

The crash happened at Moscow's Vnukovo airport shortly before midnight on Monday, with de Margerie's corporate jet hitting a snow plough and bursting in to flames, killing all four people on board. Russian investigators report that the driver of the snow plough was drunk.

Total has been a partner of Lotus and backer of Grosjean for a number of years, and both the team and driver have paid tribute to de Margerie.

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"Lotus F1 Team is shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the death of Christophe de Margerie, Chairman and CEO of Total," a team statement read.

"Total has been a long-standing partner of Lotus F1 Team with Christophe a friend and supporter of the team as well as a close personal friend of Team Principal and Chairman, G?rard Lopez.

"The thoughts of Lotus F1 Team are with the families of Christophe de Margerie and the other three victims of yesterday's plane crash."

Grosjean himself wrote an emotional post on his Facebook page, with Total having helped him secure his F1 seat.

"Waking up is hard today, Christophe you were one of those men that you meet very rarely in a lifetime," Grosjean wrote. "You have believed in me and you have helped me to accomplish my dream. We always lose the best too early and this morning this sentence is more true than ever.

"Intimidating, impressive, nice, charming and teasing, I remember all these moments shared with you. They were all special and unique, like my relationship with Total F1 which is born of your initiative.

"You have helped me but especially you taught me! I know that you always keep an eye on us all and you'll be proud of our achievements.

"In January you told me: "do second this year and wins next year!" I believe that 2014 is a black year but I know that the future will be better...

"Today the pain is strong for me, but I can imagine horrible for your family.

"To yours, my most sincere condolences."

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier - who was team principal at Lotus until the start of this year - described de Margerie as a "legend" in his own tribute.

"The word 'legend' is often over-used, but in the case of Christophe de Margerie, who was tragically killed in a private aircraft accident at Vnukovo Airport in Moscow last night, it is entirely appropriate," Boullier said.

"Before I say anything else, I want to offer my sincerest condolences to Christophe's wife and family, for whom this cataclysmic event must be almost too painful to bear at this time.

"I also want to extend my sympathies to the family and friends of the three crew members who were killed alongside Christophe.

"As I said in the tweet I wrote as soon as I had heard the news, Christophe was not only a great man but also a great friend. More than that, in fact, I wholeheartedly admired him. A wise, bold, determined and charismatic personality, and a proud Frenchman, he led Total from the front, and, from a Formula 1 point of view, he it was who steered his company's Formula 1 involvement in recent years.

"He will be very sorely missed."

Red Bull - another Total team - said de Margerie was "a great man" who will be missed.

"We have worked with Christophe de Margerie for many years and always held him in the highest regard," a team statement said. "He was brilliant in business and a great man on so many levels.

"It is tragic to lose him in this way and we will miss him. We would like to send our condolences to his wife and family and to all of our colleagues at Total at this very difficult time."