Technical chief James Allison says that Lotus will have to wait until the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne to get a true idea of the potential of the new E20.
The new car, revealed today [Sunday] via an online broadcast from the Enstone factory, features a stepped nose as seen on the Caterham, Force India and Ferrari cars already launched while the car also features a more traditional exhaust layout due to the change in regulations for the year ahead.
Speaking in a Q&A released by the team, Allison said that the change to the exhausts was the major difference for the year ahead and one that was welcomed at Enstone after the innovative system used last year ultimately failed to deliver the expected results.
“If you casually flicked through the regulations you'd be forgiven for thinking that there aren't many differences from last year, however nestling in there are some fairly profound changes,” he said. “The most notable changes relate to the exhaust. The teams decided around Silverstone in 2011 that we were going to get rid of exhaust blown rear diffusers, and that point alone requires a very different design concept. Recent car designs have been heavily influenced by their rear exhaust configurations, and the intent of the rule is to stop that happening. The rules on the exhaust geometries themselves have been reinforced by some engine operation rules which don't sit in the technical regulations, but which arrived by technical directive quite late last year.
“The exhaust issue, although agreed in principle at Silverstone, continued to unfold as late as mid-November, so the challenge has been to roll with the punches as the detail emerged over a fairly extended period - trying to make the best of each version of the rules as they've come out, whilst trying to anticipate where the end position is going to be. It's certainly been an area which has pre-occupied us and I imagine the rest of the grid too.
“As far as the exhausts are concerned, our forward exhausts would now be illegal under the new rules and didn't live up to our expectations in any case. So that part of the car we say goodbye to and welcome in a complete redesign.
“We've worked hard and long on the car. We have tried to react to the regulatory picture as it's unfolded, but we will only really start to be able to judge how well we have done once we start to run the car in pre-season. Even then we won't really know until qualifying in Melbourne.”
Allison and his team will work with two new drivers this season in the shape of Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen, and he admitted he was confident that the pair would help to push the former Renault team forwards.
“We've worked hard and long on the car,” he said. “We have tried to react to the regulatory picture as it's unfolded, but we will only really start to be able to judge how well we have done once we start to run the car in pre-season. Even then we won't really know until qualifying in Melbourne.”