James Allison, Lotus, Nurburgring, 2011

Lotus confirm Allison to be replaced by Chester

2013 F1 season

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James Allison, Lotus, Nurburgring, 2011Lotus have confirmed technical director James Allison is leaving the team.

Nick Chester, who was previously the team’s engineering director, will take over as technical director.

Allison’s destination is unknown at present. He worked for the team from 1991 to 1992 and 1994 to 1999 when it was Benetton, and since 2005 during which time it has competed as Renault and Lotus.

“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,” said team principal Eric Boullier.

“Nick is well known to everyone at Enstone having been with the team for over 12 years,” Boullier added. “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.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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72 comments on “Lotus confirm Allison to be replaced by Chester”

  1. Well, I didn’t expect that O.O

  2. Waiting for the “Mercedes” joke to come up…

    Seriously, i would think Mclaren would be hiring him. They seem lost.

    1. James Allison was a really massive asset to them…I think the only way for him is up, and I’d be surprised if this wasn’t McLaren muscling in…

      1. The best informed seem to think Ferrari is as likely as McLaren. With Mercedes thought to be an option too, as well as Williams

        1. He already went to Ferrari between the Benetton and Renault days, IIRC.

        2. Will Ellingham
          8th May 2013, 13:24

          Well I guess you´re covered there…

    2. If Mercedes are going to hire him, they would have more technical directors than the engineers lol!!!
      McLaren is the most reasonable option with Allison replacing Paddy Lowe

    3. Joe Saward seems to think it is Mercedes who have ‘made the offer he could not refuse’. I subsequently made the joke to Jennie Gow about them needing a tea boy.

      McLaren does seem like the optimum place to go, since Paddy is out (but then Paddy doesn’t seem to be officially heading to Mercedes yet – could he be going to Enstone?)

      1. Will Ellingham
        8th May 2013, 13:26

        I´ll go with Saward.

      2. BJ (@beejis60)
        8th May 2013, 17:01

        Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Allison joins Mercedes and Lowe suddenly reappears at McLaren?

        1. Waiting for the “Mercedes” joke to come up…

          He’s going to Mercedes.

  3. This could affect Raikkonen’s decision in staying with the team especially if we know how much he trust Allison

    1. Do you know what else could affect Raikkonen’s decision to stay with the team?

      The availability of other seats. If Lotus is the best team with an opening for him – and as far as we know, they are – he’ll stay with them.

      1. The availability of other seats

        I can see 2 available seats in 2014 in both Red Bull & Ferrari

        1. MB (@muralibhats)
          8th May 2013, 12:53

          Ferrari will not. And Red Bull might just be playing games by taking RAI’s name. To upset Lotus’s rythm.

    2. That was my first thought as well. I thought he would stay put as long as Allison is there but now that move to RBR might not be so far-fetched, even if Marko backs Ricciardo.

  4. Is there any doubt at all that he’s _not_ going to McLaren?

    1. No, there is no doubt. McLaren have denied it, and there is no reason to believe they are not being honest about it.

      1. McLaren have denied it

        They denied also Lewis’s move to Mercedes and Paddy lowe’s decision to leave the team

      2. Well all the teams will deny it until some confirms it…

    2. It’s an odd situation for sure. To step down just like that doesn’t make any sense. We still don’t know the reasons why is James leaving, but interesting thing is: he turned down McLaren’s offer earlier. It wasn’t the other way round. Logical conclusion is that he was commited to Lotus but since then something has changed. In my opinion it is zomething wiz z French guy. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up at McLaren because they need someone of his caliber desperately.

      1. What is this body language telling you?

  5. Somehow, Andrew Benson initially seemed to think that Ferrari would be Allison’s likely destination. Seriously, I can’t see why Benson said so, Ferrari already have Fry who’s doing a pretty good job. And he wouldn’t fit in at Merc, unless this is Niki Lauda’s way of showing the finger to his competitors. McLaren probably, maybe Ferrari. Certainly not Red Bull. I wouldn’t rule out a smaller team either though..

    1. Somehow I’m under the impression that Mercedes denied and McLaren said they are completely happy with their current technical director (can’t remember his name).

      I don’t have any links though.

      1. @tmekt McLaren’s current tech. director is Tim Goss. And yeah, you’re right, I remember having seen a similar story somewhere about McLaren denying it….oh, @andae23 said it…

        1. I read it this morning, but I can’t remember where I read it!

    2. Allison already worked at Ferrari during the dominant Schumacher years.

      He has a proven track record of bouncing between teams (always ending up back at Enstone) but I can’t imagine he’d go to Ferrari again.

      Don’t discount RBR, as they need to look beyond Adrian Newey, but McLaren does seem the most sensible place at the moment.

      1. Don’t discount RBR, as they need to look beyond Adrian Newey, but McLaren does seem the most sensible place at the moment.

        Interesting idea…

        1. Exactly mate! RBR is desperate to find out the reason why is Lotus being so good in the race. Helmut Marko said that Lotus is a total mystery to them. I hope it won’t happen because it would ruin the season completely. Can you imagine what would happen if Redbulls had their speed along with Lotus’ tyre management. I dread to think.
          I hope James is F1’s nice guy indeed.

  6. MB (@muralibhats)
    8th May 2013, 12:56

    Which hurts more? Technical Director moving out or the Drivers? Ouch!

    1. I’m pretty confident that technical director moving out hurts more, for example just imagine the damage that will cause a move of Adrian Newey from Red Bull to Ferrari, it will not be the same loss of a move of Vettel to Ferrari.
      The difference is that the top drivers are very close in term of performance except some details in qualifying,races,set ups …..because they usually follow the same path but with engineers there is a big difference because it involves the skill,the experience,the know how……

      1. It will not be the same loss of a move of Vettel to Ferrari.

        Are you sure? How many championship would Red Bull have without Vettel? Look how well Webber did in the past few years and remember that he is considered a very good driver. He only managed 3rd in 2010 and 2011, and 6th in 2012.

        Newey contributed tremendous amount for their success, but so did Sebastian. Who was more important? It’s a tough call in my opinion.

        1. I said “Top Drivers”, Webber has never been a “Top Driver” and there is a difference between a very good driver and a “Top Driver”
          My point is if Vettel will leave it would be easy to replace him :Lewis,Kimi,Button will do anything to drive a Newey car but if Newey leaves the team and joins another top team the loss will be huge
          My point it is easier to replace a Top Driver than a Top engineer

          1. No, Webber was considered a top driver. He was a match for Vettel in 09 and 10 (Vettel will go down as the greatest or second greatest of all time). Beat all his other teammates except Heidfeld who he matched. Heidfeld beat Kubica 2/3 seasons remember.

            How many championships did Newey win in the 2000’s?

          2. @anon said

            No, Webber was considered a top driver. He was a match for Vettel in 09 and 10

            At that time Vettel himself was not considered a Top Driver, i don’t know if it is short or selective memory but if both Seb & Mark were considered top drivers at that time so Red Bull were desperate to sign Fernando Alonso in 2009 before he joined Ferrari

          3. Vettel was already considered a superstar in the making at the beginning of 2009. Remember winning in the Toro Rosso in Italy, that strong 4th in Brazil. He blew away his teammate Bourdais who had just won 4 straight Champ Car titles. He just hadn’t improved to the level where he is now, which is best on the grid and one of the greatest of all time.

            Alonso went to Ferrari because Red Bull were a middle of the grid team at best. Why wouldn’t Alonso go to Ferrari, who had won 6 drivers titles over the previous decade? Missed out on winning the title by a corner in 2008 too. Of course Alonso is 0/3 at Ferrari despite being brought in for his technical expertise. He hasn’t got any closer to winning a title than Massa did in 08.

        2. How many championship would Red Bull have without Vettel?
          Three, of course!

          1. In case it wasn’t a joke: how would that happen? Who would they sign instead of Vettel? Remember that they were not a top team and had little bargaining power before 2009. They were deep in the mid field. So who would drive for them and be as good as Seb?

          2. I think he was referring to the three constructors’ Championships, which they may very well have still won without Vettel.

        3. Newey contributed tremendous amount for their success, but so did Sebastian. Who was more important? It’s a tough call in my opinion.

          Pfft… are you serious? Newey contributed more.. hands down.

          1. @todfod
            I wouldn’t think many people would disagree with you there mate, just look how many Championships Williams and McLaren have won without him compared to how many they won with him and the significant increase in performance at Red Bull since he joined the team.

            He may have a team of people working with him but it looks to be too much of a coincidence that wherever he goes, Championships soon follow.

          2. How many Newey cars won championships in the 2000’s?

          3. @anon

            How many Newey Cars have won championships over the past 20 years?

      2. I can see where you’re coming from: Vettel and Alonso may be a near like-for-like swap, but I doubt it’d be the same for Pat Fry and Adrian Newey. That said though, that isn’t to say the drivers don’t make a huge difference – they definetly do, but I think the technical directors may make more.

        1. That was exactly my point, i didn’t say that Vettel didn’t contribute to Red Bull success or anything else, i said that replacing a world class engineer is tougher than replacing a world class driver

          1. @tifoso1989 I do agree for sure!

            It does also raise the point though that @maroonjack is making: I doubt there were any other drivers that Red Bull could’ve signed that would’ve won those three titles, in fact I think only Alonso could have done the same of the current drivers on the grid. So drivers are definitely very important, just that without Newey perhaps Red Bull wouldn’t have been in contention in the first place! (N.B not that I think Newey is the sole reason for Red Bull’s success, I just think he is the biggest single contributing factor).

    2. That’s a very very good question, unfortunately there’s no simple answer because every team is different, also the arrival or departure of a driver has an immediate effect on the team’s performance whereas a technical director’s influence takes longer to show but also to disappear after they’re gone.
      In Lotus’ case I think loosing Kimi would be worse than loosing Allison and that’s only because Grosjean is underperforming at the moment.

    3. Depends on how they are replaced.

    4. MB (@muralibhats)
      8th May 2013, 18:00

      In my personal opinion, Technical Director takes away years of knowledge on the car and the design. Also, it takes considerable amount of time for others to fit in.

  7. Hmmmm, this has Mclaren written all over it.

    Alison has overseen the production of cars that are strong in the exact areas Mclaren have been weak over the last few years – aero and tyre management.

    JA is also a really nice guy, I got to meet him at a FOTA event a few years ago and he gave loads of time to chat to fans about the sport and engineering.

    1. Yes, surely he has been poached as Lowe’s replacement.

    2. McLaren weak on aero and tyres? I’d say that they’ve easily been ‘#2’ for aero after Red Bull since 2010 (insert jokes about McLaren’s persistent runner-up status here) and they definitely suffered less than the majority of their rivals in the tyre stakes last year.

      Since Ron Dennis moved away, their problems have been diplomatic and operational (’09 excepted, but that was an anomaly, like most of the year).

    3. @bleeps_and_tweaks agreed with @optimaximal – if anything I think Lotus’ weakness has been precisely that: aero! They were one of the last developers of the Coanda exhaust and it makes frequent mention that the Lotus just doesn’t have the downforce of the Red Bull and last season the McLaren, which arguably had the most efficient downforce (in fact, for the most part not even arguably – it just did!).

      McLaren are only weak this year with regards to aero because the car has a fundamental issue with how low they can put the ride height. As for tyre management, well both drivers managed two stops in China…

      1. @optimaximal @vettel1 – Can’t say I agree to be honest.
        2009 – Mclaren missed the double diffuser and the car as a whole was pretty awful – took them half a season to correct it and add in the DD.
        2010 – Introduced the F-duct, which was largely adopted by everyone if they could afford it, but missed out massively with the EBD and even when they introduced it they struggled to get it to work for a large proportion of the season. Also the DD they introduced for this year was enormous, over compensating for the gains they missed in 2009, which subsequently produced a less well balanced rear compared to RBR and Ferrari.
        2011 – The octopus exhaust was a disaster, and again wreaks of them trying to hard for ‘silver bullet’ technology rather than efficient aero like RBR. They lucked into a temporary exhaust configuration for the Aus grand prix that was massively helped by the power of their engine. The U-pods looked great but didn’t herald the gains they expected. Once again struggled to match the EBD effect of RBR, and weren’t harnessing the effect of high chassis/nose.
        2012 – This was their most competitive package since 2008…only took them 4 years to match RBR…
        2013 – Rather than evolving a car that was the fastest overall in the previous season, they scrapped virtually everything and went radical…and it’s been another disaster. The problems are not to do with just ride height, they’ve struggled to get the high chassis working, they’ve had to take front wing off the car to stop it slamming itself into the ground, and won’t let on if the suspension switch is related to this. Plus they are widely reported to have massive airflow separation problems near the exhaust and diffuser, one of the most important aero surfaces on the car.
        All of this does not sound like a team that has performed well from an aero point of view. With the exception of 2012-13, they’ve been behind RBR for 5 years, and have ended up copying many of Newey’s ideas.

        1. Slight corrections (IMO of course)-

          2009 – McLaren, like Ferrari, were compromised with their 2008 championship challenge. They (along with BMW & Renault) also went all-in on KERS development and missed the nuances of the changed aero regs. They were one of the first teams to bring a double-diffuser to their car once it was deemed legal. In fact, you could say that RBR were the ones lucky to be so aero-efficient, as their car couldn’t comfortably accomodate the concept until the rear suspension was redesigned later in the season.

          2010 – The exhaust blown diffuser ‘effect’ has nothing inherently to do with the aero design of the car – It just relied on the concept of dumping fast flowing hot air into the diffuser area to seal leakage and boost it’s effect, allowing a more radically raked and designed car (yes, it’s more nuanced than that). Every car has a concept it’s built around and Red Bull took a gamble on it first. It’s worth noting that when it was under early development (and probably flakey) Mark Webber was at his strongest. The RB6 was still a brilliantly designed car though – i’m not knocking it.

          I wasn’t aware of balance issues for McLaren, although Ferrari’s car had considerably more issues across the year.

          2011 – Yes, the fabled Octopus exhaust was a disaster, but then the limited testing means that such ideas have to be run in anger to know if they’re bad. At least McLaren deserve plaudits for recognising the error and backing out of it, rather than running it into the ground like Lotus did with their forward exhausts… The ghetto copying of the Red Bull system was sly, but what’s wrong with taking inspiration from what works, especially when said reverse engineering was done in little over a week.

          2012 – They were aided by the banning of the EBD (which compromised RBR, as predicted) but were also one of the first to recognise the benefits of the Coanda downwash effect. That is a true aero effect and was widely copied by nearly everyone else who had the money and time to develop it, whereas RBR went more towards complex aero manipulation under the sidepods with their tunnel design before introducing traits of the Coanda downwash effect.

          2013 – McLaren had nothing to lose by going radical, just like no-one else really does. The suspension change could in theory be a boon when the chassis are forced back down next season and if it turns out to be a waste of time, there’s always push-rods to fall back on.
          They’ve also mentioned that they (and hinting at other teams) have been having issues with Pirelli’s wind tunnel tyre models.

          Also, Adrian Newey agreed to stick an F-Duct on the back of his 2010 car. He’s often seen prowling the pits and the grid making notes of developments on everyones cars. Just because his (and his teams ideas) come out and just work by virtue of a better aerodynamic design process than most others (they had a 60%-scale windtunnel before most other teams), it doesn’t mean he’s not copying.

          F1 is nearly 100% cross-pollinated, especially towards the end of a formula/rule-set.

        2. @bleeps_and_tweaks that’s why they are second best, not the best! Red Bull undoubtably trumped everyone, not just McLaren, in 2010/11 and were second best in 2009/12 – they are looking to be at the top of the pile so far this season as well.

          McLaren though I would say have been far better than team Enstone from 2009-12: if we take that constructor’s championship results are a direct consequence of how well that team has mastered aero (which isn’t too far off the truth in reality) then it was 3rd vs 8th in ’09, 2nd vs 5th in ’10 & ’11 and 3rd vs 4th in ’12 (the former being McLaren and the latter Renault/Lotus). That’s 5-0 McLaren, so really I don’t think they need aero expertise from Enstone, that’s for sure!

          The tyre conservation could be a useful skill to master, but all in all I don’t think that’s been a particular weak point of the MP4-28. So really, if Allison is indeed going to McLaren I don’t think he’ll be making a massive difference in those respects; McLaren just need to solve their own problems and they’ll be fine!

  8. I hope with Nick heading the tech team at Enston they keep producing competitive cars. The more race winning cars the better.

  9. Pfft another one goes for the money, F1 is getting like football…

    It’s all for nowt anyway as Force India will do a Brawn by finding a loophole that allows them to put ramjets on the car.

    I give you your 2014 champion Paul Di Resta

    1. Please make this happen!
      Not for di Resta’s sake, but because the concept of actual Bullet Bills being attached to an F1 car pleases me greatly :)

  10. New United manager?

    In all honesty though, shame for Lotus. I hope it doesn’t have too much of an effect on their championship hopes and their switch to 2014. I’ve grown very fond of them.

  11. I don’t know why, it makes not much sense, but I don’t know why, I think he’s gonna turn up at… Red Bull Racing.

  12. Xujun Zhang (@endofworld2012)
    8th May 2013, 15:23

    where is kimi to go ?

  13. I say he’s going to Williams,

    Allison has brought Lotus back to the front, so maybe he’s looking for a new chalange.

    Mclaren have denied it and Lowe’s sucessor is already in place
    Mercedes have too many cooks in the kitchen already
    Ferrari have Pat Fry
    Red Bull has Newey

    so don’t see him going to either of these, leaves the midfield teams, most likely Williams or Sauber, Sauber has no position of technical director right now, and Williams have given Mike-scandal-Coughlan long enough to nknow improvements aren’t comming

  14. Worst kept secret since Alonso to Ferrari to be honest.

    And he was so optimistic when he was on the F1 show the 26th of april :-)

  15. Probably not a good thing.

  16. And in other management changes today; Sir Alex Ferguson has resigned from Manchester United, rumoured
    to be filling an available management role at Mercedes. :S

    1. Lol lol lol …….. Too much to control my laughter …..Merc : I want POWER UNULIMITED POWERRRRRRR

  17. Allison can clearly create a quick car, let’s hope he goes somewhere like Caterham, Marussia or Williams to give them a boost up the grid.

  18. Not really a surprise if I’m honest. His stock has been talked up by several people. For me, he’s out grown Lotus now, and will probably be the next man to beat when Newey puts away his pencil and drawing board.

    A move to Ferrari wouldn’t be a surprise, they’ll want to beat Red Bull and are very wary of the super team that Mercedes have at the moment. The only issue I can see is where will he fit in at Ferrari. Pat Fry is probably well underway on next years car and I doubt Allison will want to play second fiddle to him. Furthermore, Rory Byrne will be back next year too. A lot of chiefs at Ferrari next year, not enough Indians..?

  19. yesterday the Kimi news about his future and now Allison leaves, well I can only say that Lotus are just gone, it was good for a while though.

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