The Great Debate! Ted Kravitz and David Croft head-to-head on the significance of James Allison's exit from Lotus
Could Enstone Technical Director's exit prompt Kimi to follow suit?
Last Updated: 09/05/13 11:34am
Following the confirmation that Technical Director James Allison is leaving Lotus for pastures new, Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz and David Croft play devil's advocate and debate whether his exit will signal a demise in the team's fortunes - and what it might mean for the future of Kimi Raikkonen...
Ted: "I think it is a major blow for Lotus. James Allison has been part of their success recently - they won races last year, they have won races already this year, Kimi Raikkonen has finished in the top three of the Championship - and that is largely down to the technical leadership James Allison brought to the team.
"I think this is going to signal a downturn in Lotus's fortunes- not just because they are losing a talented leader, but also because there must have been a reason he went. He wouldn't have walked away from Lotus if everything was rosey and the team was well funded to bring the developments they needed for the car - so it exposes wider problems in the team and that is why he has gone. I think they are going to go downhill from here."
Crofty: "Not in the terms of Franz Klammer [the 1976 Olympic Downhill Skier gold medallist!] are they going to go downhill - just because one man leaves a team of 400 employees, it does not mean they are going to drop faster than a sinking stone. There is no 'I' in team, it is a collective ensemble at Lotus, there are some great guys, Nick Chester [the newly-appointed Lotus Technical Director following Allison's departure] is a fine designer of cars and aerodynamics and he can fill the void James Allison is going to leave and there are a group of guys who can fill in behind.
"What Lotus probably have a problem with is that they do not have the budget of Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren or Mercedes and that hampers them more than one man leaving, even if it is James Allison who is one of the best guys in the business.
Ted "But 'best man in the business' is the point. If you look at James Allison's track record, he was at Ferrari during the Schumacher years, and what were they doing? Winning World Championship after World Championship. He then goes to Renault and he wins a World Championship with Fernando Alonso in 2005 and then another in 2006.
"My worry is that James Allison leaves and Kimi Raikkonen, their star driver, starts to think 'ok, what am I doing here if the guys are starting to desert the ship?'. I think we are starting to look at Kimi thinking that 'if one of the most talented guys in Formula 1 then maybe I am going to leave for Red Bull as well' - and that's a deal we think might already have been done.
Crofty: "In which case James Allison going makes no difference because Kimi is already on his way out! I'm sorry Ted, but people move around in Formula 1 all the time: Paddy Lowe has left McLaren, is that why they are so bad this year? Well no, the car was probably worse before Paddy went to the GT3 project. People move around, teams have good years and they have bad years - and next year it's not going to be down to the James Allisons of this world to design a great car, it's going to be about who has the best engines and energy recovery systems to go with it.
"James Allison is just one small cog in what makes a successful season for a team. Lotus wont miss him this year. Next year? If Renault get their act together, they might not miss him at all."