Speculation around the departure of James Allison started earlier on this year when Paddy Lowe left the same Technical Director position at McLaren. The Woking based outfit subsequently moved Tim Goss into the role and the speculation died down. Allison has been courted by many teams up and down the grid looking to secure his services with Lotus having somewhat of a great run under his direction.
This morning the team issued the following press release signalling the end of James' time with the team:
Thursday 8th May 2013
Nick Chester appointed Lotus F1 Team Technical Director
Lotus F1 Team is pleased to announce the promotion of Nick Chester to the position of Technical Director.
Nick will replace the departing James Allison, who will leave Enstone
after working with the team most recently since 2005 and previously from
1991 to 1992 and from 1994 to 1999.
Nick has worked at Enstone since 2000, most recently as Director of
Engineering, and previously as Head of Performance Systems, Head of
Vehicle Performance Group and Race Engineer. Prior to coming to Enstone, Nick worked for Arrows Grand Prix for five years.
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "We are pleased to announce Nick Chester as our next Technical Director. Nick is well known to everyone at Enstone, having been with the team for over twelve years.
He is already directly Involved with this and next year's cars,
Ensuring a smooth transition Which has been underway for some time.
It's an illustration of the strength and breadth of talent at Enstone
That we can draw on staff of the caliber of Nick and it's something of
an Enstone tradition for new Technical Directors to be promoted from
within. He assumes his new position at a tremendously exciting time for the sport.
The 2014 technical regulation changes present many challenges, while
our current position of second place in both the Constructors 'and
Drivers' World Championships mean in can not lose sight of this year's
development battle. Nick really has his work cut out, but we know he is more than capable of handling the tasks ahead.
As a team and individually, we would all like to thank James Allison
for his efforts during his three stints at Enstone and wish him all the
best in his future Endeavours. "
Nick Chester, Technical Director, Lotus F1 Team: "I have worked at
Enstone for over twelve years and am delighted to take on the role of
Technical Director. I am grateful to the management at Enstone for the faith they have in Promoting me to this position.
I am very aware of our need to keep pushing the development of this
year's E21 whilst developing next year's car is a very different set of
regulations. There are some exciting times ahead for Enstone and I'm honored to be part of it. "
The speculation on James' future is now heightened with many of the lead teams keeping tight lipped over any advances they've made for the Technical Directors services. James will now be placed on gardening leave by the team until the end of the season so as that sensitive information is not directly transferred to his new employer. This puts him in an unfortunate position of not being directly responsible for the design of a 2014 challenger although of course his fingerprints will be all over the E22. McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes & Williams are all names I have seen mentioned in regard to James' move with McLaren striking me as the best fit. Mercedes cannot be ruled out with the team collecting Technical Director's like Pannini stickers (Bell, Costa, Willis and Lowe already on board). Ferrari seemingly have sorted through the issues they've had over the last few years by restructuring their staff and streamlining their workload, however James has already spent some time with the Scuderia leaving the door open for a return (Albeit perhaps not as a Technical Director with Pat Fry occupying that position). This leaves us with one of the midfield group to which Williams stand out as the best shout but I cannot understand his desire to leave a front tier team for one that is struggling like Williams are at the moment.
Until such point his new employer makes an announcement we won't know where James is heading as his contract will forbid him from revealing it and so let the speculation commence.....