Lotus F1 have confirmed that technical boss James Allison will be leaving the team and they have quickly replaced him with long-time engineering mind Nick Chester. The move comes at a critical time as the team have yet to retain star driver Kimi Raikkonen beyond his expiring contract at the end of 2013.
The issue is important for Kimi as a technical director is a big player in the success of any team. Consider the moves Mercedes recently made to get McLaren’s Paddy Lowe and the repercussions it may have had on the teams current performance and the recovery process while not having Paddy to go to for key decisions on a car he oversaw the design of. The impact Pat Fry has had on Ferrari or Ross Brawn or James Key for Force India. The role is crucial and Kimi knows this but it must be said that the Finn may have a solid confidence in Chester’s abilities as well.
Where is Allison going? Speculation has him replacing Paddy Lowe at McLaren although Tim Goss has already been given the role. Williams and Ferrari are two other names mentioned in the press. It will be a difficult time as James has been with the team since 2009.
Will Kimi follow James out the door? Sky Sports F1’s Martin Brundle tweeted:
“James Allison leaves Lotus F1, Kimi won’t be pleased,”
It’s an interesting move as Allison told Sky Sprots F1:
“I have a pretty long contract with this team. I take contracts very seriously and I intend to honour that in every aspect,” Allison said back in January.
“It is true that there is talk and chat and happily people do pay me some attention. But I have a contract with this team and that’s that.”
I guess the term “long” is all contextual.
Eric Boullier, Team Principal:
“We are pleased to announce Nick Chester as our next Technical Director. Nick is well known to everyone at Enstone having been with the team for over twelve years. He is already directly involved with this and next year’s cars, ensuring a smooth transition which has been underway for some time. It’s an illustration of the strength and breadth of talent at Enstone that we can draw on personnel of the calibre of Nick and it’s something of an Enstone tradition for new Technical Directors to be promoted from within. He assumes his new position at a tremendously exciting time for the sport. The 2014 technical regulation changes present many challenges, while our current position of second place in both the Constructors’ and Drivers’ World Championships mean we cannot lose sight of this year’s development battle. Nick really has his work cut out, but we know he is more than capable of handling the tasks ahead. As a team and individually, we would all like to thank James Allison for his efforts during his three stints at Enstone and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.”
Nick Chester, Technical Director, Lotus F1 Team:
“I have worked at Enstone for over twelve years and am delighted to take on the role of Technical Director. I am grateful to the management at Enstone for the faith they have in promoting me to this position. I am very aware of our need to keep pushing development of this year’s E21 whilst developing next year’s car to a set of very different regulations. There are some exciting times ahead for Enstone and I’m honoured to be part of it.”