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.”