Lotus technical director James Allison says the scale of the change teams face in 2014 amounts to a “tsunami” compared to the “ripple” of the last major rules overhaul in 2009.
Speaking to media at Jerez, Allison said Lotus had begun work on their 2014 cars two years ago: “A long time ago in 2011, not at the end of 2011”.
“Of course the rules have evolved a bit during that time as well so to some extent you’ll have to chase the way the rules are going,” he added. “But most of what the 2014 championship will be was laid out some times ago.”
“And you deal with a huge change like that by not leaving it until the last minute before you think about it.”
Following the first day of testing for the 2013 season Allison admitted that the first test of the 2014 cars would be cause for some trepidation among the teams:
“Yeah it’ll be exciting. This is exciting and scary as well, honestly, it’s always scary and exciting. But next year… the 2009 changes were a ripple compared with the tsunami of 2014.”
“Simpler” for Ferrari and Mercedes
Allison admitted that teams such as Ferrari and Mercedes who build their chassis and engine have a “simpler” path to tread with the new rules.
But he pointed out that there are advantages to working with Renault, who supply four of the eleven teams in F1 today:
“Generally speaking we don’t get to hear the input [to Renaultsport] from other people but you can get a sense of whether the direction we’re pushing in is one that is awkward for them or is not, because it may or may not conflict.
“And most of the time it’s pretty clear that teams are pushing in the same directions as one another because the engineering is driving that. And we see to want more or less the same things.
“So you could argue that Renaultsport has an advantage because they have more people to actually think about the problem and feed back into them.”
Allison stressed that Renault were not throwing all their weight behind world champions Red Bull. “I think one of the lovely things about Renault is they’re a very, very even-handed engine supplier,” he said.
“They will be delighted if all of their teams are fighting tooth and nail for pole position amongst one another and they genuinely don’t offer technical preference to one team over another.
“Not only do they offer this even-handed approach, but they’re also extremely conscious of the fact that they need to make a car that works well in 2014, not an engine that works well, so they want they whole package to work.
“So they are very considerate in asking the chassis people what we think is important and then trying to bring that to the engine. We certainly feel that we’re given lots of attention by Renault.”
Extra testing not needed
He said it was “highly feasible” for the teams to prepare for 2014 under the current testing restrictions:
“From a reliability point of view – that’s the thing, can you be ready in three tests? Well dynos are quite good at telling you whether the engine’s reliable and they’re quite good at making gearboxes reliable and that’s the majority of the drivetrain.
“So really the only open point I think would be whether you’re going to produce a car that’s got enough cooling. A fair challenge in 2014.
“But wind tunnels aren’t bad either so most of the things that would be necessary to put a car on the ground and expect it to work are there and the testing would be about performance. So, yeah, I think so.”
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