There’s no denying James Allison’s dedication to the team now known as Lotus. He joined the team in 1991 just a few years before it became the championship winning powerhouse of the Formula One paddock in 1994-95.
He left the team, though, and applied his skills at Ferrari, but he eventually made his way back to his Enstone-based team. At this point, the squad was known as Renault and, while he was not the technical director, he was an integral part of the championship success the team enjoyed in 2005-6.
In 2010, he was made technical director of a team who had all the means to make the step up to top-team status. Their two drivers had talent, with Robert Kubica in particular showing championship winning potential. Unfortunately. his 2011 crash ended most of the team’s hopes of fighting for the championship. The 2011 car also proved a major disappointment, with an ambitious design proving great initially, but eventually failing to maintain performance.
The trials of 2011 only accentuated Allison’s dedication to the team, and with the success of 2012, both in terms of car performance and driver decision, 2013 was set to be even better. This has been proved in spades already, but Allison’s departure has taken many by surprise.
While rumors of Allison’s potential departure were rampant practically the day the competitiveness of the E20 Lotus was seen, not many were expecting him to leave the team so early in the season. Allison has been very desirable in the past few years, as he has been a major player in the struggle of bringing the Enstone-based team back to the front of the grid.
With all of this in mind, Allison’s departure could potentially open the floodgates for further flights from the team. The technical department is undoubtedly weaker in the loss of Allison, but not completely, However, could this fuel the still raging fires of Kimi Raikkonen’s rumored departure? Possibly. But Kimi should have enough faith in his team by now that he knows when something like this will drastically effect his time and competitiveness in Formula One.
Allison’s replacement, Nick Chester, has a lot to prove during the remainder of the year, but all evidence points to a very competent and talented technical mind filling the void made by the former technical director. Lotus’s competitiveness may be in “danger”, but do not count them out just yet.