Lotus F1 technical director James Allison says he does not expect many teams to follow Ferrari's lead [ see separate story] and incorporate a 'modesty panel' to cover up the ugly stepped noses that made their debut in 2012.

The Enstone team's new E21 was revealed to the world on Monday evening, but continued to feature the same nose design as its predecessor, the E20, with Allison explaining that performance would always outweigh aesthetics when it came to penning an F1 car.

"I'm guessing the cars won't look much different [to 2012]," he mused, "There is one rule which opens the possibility for a change as we will now be permitted to fit a non-structural panel on the upper surface of the nose as a means of avoiding the duck-bill style designs that we saw in 2012. However, such a panel is optional and I would not be surprised if the majority of the grid chose not to make use of it.

"The panel will add a few grammes of weight and so is only likely to run on the car if a team can find a performance benefit for doing so."

Allison later admitted, however, that, should a performance advantage be obtained from running with such a panel, Lotus would rethink its concept.

With the 2013 rules bearing little real difference to last season, each of the eleven cars due to be unveiled before the opening round in Melbourne next month are expected to follow similar lines, but Allison concedes that that has not stopped his team from looking for anything that could give the E21 an edge over the competition.

"After a string of quite eventful rule changes and interpretations in the years since 2009, it looks as if 2013 is going to be a year of regulatory stability," he reflected, "There are only a few, very limited, changes which comes as a considerable relief to the entire grid given the size of the transformation bearing down on the sport for 2014.

"Mind you, even with no changes to the text of the regulations, we never stop poring over the rules to look for new loopholes. Quite often, young engineers fresh from university will point out an ambiguity in the text of a regulation that has been settled for decades because they are looking at what is written with fresh eyes and no preconceived ideas about what is actually intended.

"Depending on where you look, some parts of the new car are a ground-up redesign and, in other areas, we have further optimised the best bits of the design philosophy we've adopted for several seasons. The front and rear suspension layouts are substantially revised to try and give us better aerodynamic opportunities. The front wing is a continuation of the concepts we have worked on since the 2009 rules were published. For the rear wing system, we've continued to try to work on having a satisfactory level of rear downforce stability whilst having maximum DRS switching potential."

The DRS system will be an evolution of the design that the team attempted to introduce in 2012, only to be thwarted by a lack of meaningful running in free practice sessions. While Mercedes and others will see their concepts banned by tightened regulations, Lotus' take on the idea will continue to be allowed.

"The passive nature of the switching of our device means it is not outlawed by the latest regulations, and this is an area we continue to work on," Allison confirmed, "It is not something which will be a silver bullet to transform our car, but it is something which could add performance as part of the overall design."

With both Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean returning for a second season, Lotus will have an element of continuity, both on the track and in terms of the cockpit package it refined last year, and Allison admits that that adds to the sense of anticipation when it comes to the E21.

"The E20 proved itself to be an effective racing car, so there is an element of expectation from the E21," he confirmed, "We have continued with our design themes and tried to build a more efficient and faster racing car based on all the lessons we learnt last year. How successful we have been at this we will only know once we take to the track at grands prix.

"In terms of goals and targets, we never set out to build the second-fastest or third-fastest car - we set out to build the fastest and most effective car that we possibly can. We want to improve our car in all areas from last year, and we want the improvements we make to be greater than those made by the opposition. However, having said all that, the official target established by the team's owners is to achieve a minimum of third place in the constructors' championship."


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