28 January 2014
Lotus insists F1 2014 nose design is legal
Lotus technical director Nick Chester insists that E22's radical forked nose approach is within new-look F1 regulations.
Even as the covers were coming off new cars up and down the Jerez pit-lane on Tuesday morning, a lot of talk was about one of the designs not even in Spain.
Lotus had made no secret of its intention to miss the first pre-season test in order to ensure that its new E22 would be ready for action in Bahrain next month, but that did not stop the team from issuing a 'pre-launch' image of the machine, which features a strikingly different approach to the new aerodynamic rules.
Where the majority of teams have opted for ugly proboscis designs at the front of their 2014 challengers, Lotus' solution is more akin to the old-fashioned tuning fork, cleft in the middle as opposed to looking more like a certain male appendage. Perhaps realising that there may have been an alternative, or worried that the Enstone answer may be more successful, there were murmurings about its legality as rivals set up in Spain, but Lotus technical director Nick Chester insists there is nothing untoward with the E22.
“We have passed all the necessary crash tests and we are very confident that our design complies with all the FIA legal requirements,” he told the team's official website, “We have just taken an innovative direction, and one that's different to the other teams. Where there are so many variations in design, there is always bound to be a little talk, but we remain relaxed and focussed on our design and progression.”
So far, only Red Bull, Mercedes and Ferrari – incidentally the top three in last year's constructors' championship – appear to have shied away from the obviously protruding nose, with the champions having found a deeper solution and its main rivals stopping short entirely, but Chester insists that he is happy with what his design team have created.
“As we can see, there are plenty of different solutions out there - as we expected there would be with such a radical change of regulations,” he said, referring to the wholesale rewriting of the 2014 rulebook, “There appear to be some elegant solutions and others that certainly don't look as nice, [but] we're very happy with the direction we have taken and it will be very interesting to see how the cars perform once we get a proper chance to compare them on track.”
Although early running at Jerez appears to have been limited by teething troubles, build problems and, in Mercedes' case, an accident for Lewis Hamilton, Chester believes there will still be things that can be learned from keeping an eye on the four-day session in southern Spain.
“It's always interesting to see what solutions the other teams have,” he pointed out, “Obviously, you can't easily see under the skin of the cars - where the majority of the design work takes place - but it's always interesting to see the various aero packaging on the other cars. We'll look at the different bodywork options they're running and there's always a few things to pick up on what they are pursuing.
“The [E22] is coming together pretty well now. The build is well advanced and we think we'll be in good shape for Bahrain come the next test.”
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