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GP Week : Issue 182
LOTUS LOST OUT? ALLISON LEAVES THE TEAM Technical director James Allison has left Lotus ahead of the start of Formula One’s European season in Spain, a massive blow for the Enstone-based squad that could affect star driver Kimi Raikkonen’s future with the outfit. Despite running second in the constructors’ championship after the first four races of the season, Lotus lack the big budgets of their rivals in Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, and McLaren. The team’s strength lies in their ability to use their resources wisely, something for which Allison has been widely credited. Crucially, Allison is leaving Lotus ahead of 2014’s sweeping rule changes, when the need for a clever designer able to find loopholes in the new rules to build a competitive machine will be all the greater. However, work on the 2014 car is already well under way, and Allison will have had some influence over the early iterations. Raikkonen’s contract expires at the end of this year, and the paddock rumour mill has linked the Finnish racer with a number of teams, not least as a possible partner for Sebastian Vettel at Red Bull. The Iceman has been unruffled by Allison’s departure: “For me it doesn’t really make a difference,” Raikkonen told reporters in Barcelona. “I cannot tell if it will make a difference in one week or in one year, or if it won't make a difference at all. It's not like it suddenly happened one day. People have discussed it and the team will have known it was coming for a while.” Lotus, who have promoted Enstone veteran Nick Chester to the technical director role, too have put a brave face on Allison’s departure, pointing to the depth of engineering talent in the squad. “N ick is well known to everyone at Enstone having been with the team for over twelve years,” team principal Eric Boullier said. “He is already directly involved with this and next year’s cars, ensuring a smooth transition which has been under way 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. As for where Allison is headed, that remains unclear. Rumours have strongly linked him with a return to Ferrari, where he enjoyed great success between 2000 and 2005, working under Ross Brawn. It is believed that McLaren, who will lose Paddy Lowe to Mercedes at the start of next year, and Mercedes – already packed to the rafters with technical bigwigs – have also tried to get Allison. F1 >>> NEWS 5 GPWEEK.com // 5 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: