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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.”

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An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry and as a CTO, he focuses on technology integration in commercial workspace design, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Jeff

    What’s with the Dupont F1 nonsense?

    https://twitter.com/VincentDupontF1

    • Brian

      You mean the team where Allison will start on April 1st, 2014?

  • Schmorbraten

    I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the story, although it may take a while. Lotus wouldn’t need to name an immediate replacement if Allison has no plans where to go next – so he probably has already signed a new contract. If Allison doesn’t say where he’s going, his future employer probably doesn’t want certain people to know yet, most likely someone who is still needed to plod on for a while working for the current season. The latter would be more likely in a team that’s in the running for championships this year, so that limits it to Ferrari, Red Bull, Mclaren and Mercedes. Of those, the only team with no obvious counter-argument seems to be Ferrari. Joe Saward thinks Mercedes is more likely, and most of the time he’s right on stuff like this, having lots of contacts and decades of experience in who to trust and who not. I’ve also read the rumor that Allison didn’t want to continue working with the Genii folk – if that’s true, I’d be even more interested than if this is just about a big money offer to Allison.

  • UAN

    Gary Anderson wrote on BBC that James Allison would be on his dream team as a designer (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/formula1/22387361):

    “Designer: Red Bull’s Adrian Newey would be the number one choice, but he’s getting older now and someone has to supercede him and I think Lotus’s James Allison could be the guy to do that.”

    TD’s of James Allison’s calibre-look at the Lotus the last two years-aren’t exactly a dime a dozen.

    Would love – LOVE – to see Kimi go to Red Bull. Vettel and Kimi would be an awesome line up, better than Button vs. Hamilton (in recent years).

    • Kimi, Alison and Newey + VET @ Red Bull Racing will quite simply mean the end of the F1 as we know it currently.
      Problem with F1 is that knowledgeable people are limited amount, and if these are in one team, we shall see long time hegemony, worse than Ferrari’s MSC days.

      Where’s Allison really going, easy answer: Mercedes, Ferrari, Mclaren or Red Bull in order of possibility.
      Merc as #1 as they are looking for TD, Ferrari because they always have room for someone smart (and because he has worked with them for 5 years!) Mclaren because Tim Goss may have been temp replacement, and Red Bull as less likely candidate, as they already have Newey.
      Pretty poor logic, I know, but that’s all we’ve got at the moment. The move itself is quite big and will cause the next interesting silly season.

  • dude

    “Will Kimi follow James out the door?”

    Kimi isn’t going to back to McLaren nor Ferrari. So that leave Mercedes and RedBull, but providing Nico and Webber will not perform so well and Lotus form starts to wane by the end of this year. Unless Allison is coming to RedBull or Mercedes, Kimi isn’t likely going to follow just for one person and not get at least equal to #1 status in a team. Renault is going to have a good engine for next year as well.

    • I’m with you. I don’t think Kimi will follow James to a team so much as this will be a consideration for Kimi as to if he takes an offer elsewhere. Sorry I wasn’t clear on that in my post.

  • jonnowoody

    Poor old Nico. First Mikey, then Lewisteria struck and now the threat of Kimi. Maybe his game is about as up as it could be.