JANUARY 28, 2014
FIA bombarded by Lotus nose legality queries
F1's governing body was "bombarded" with messages from rival teams after Lotus revealed the first photo of its highly-unique nose solution for 2014.
The front of the unlaunched E22, which will not be present throughout the opening winter test at Jerez this week, has been likened to a 'forklift' or a 'tuning fork', albeit with assymetrical twin tusks.
So as Toro Rosso lifted the veil on its STR9 at Jerez on Monday, triggering sniggers from the assembled crowd due to the phallic resemblance of its nose, technical boss James Key was asked if anything else he has seen so far raises alarm bells when it comes to legality.
"Apart from the Lotus nose, no," he said.
"The Lotus nose needs a bit of clarification. It's a very clever idea. I don't think it's illegal, it just whether it's in the spirit of the regulations."
The 'spirit' of the rules is always a controversial point to raise. In the case of the Lotus, the regulations envisage only one nose tip, but it is believed the E22 designers have found a loophole by placing the crash structure in one tip only.
The slightly shorter tip is simply a quirk to satisfy the precise wording of the regulations.
"All the teams are now looking in this direction," confessed Pat Symonds, Williams' technical chief, according to Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"For testing, the nose is not the decisive detail," he explained. "Everyone just wants to get going and then explore the aerodynamic limits later on."
Red Bull's world champion Sebastian Vettel, at Jerez to test the so far unseen RB10, said: "Our new car looks better than anything I've seen so far."
Many believe Ferrari's low and wide nose is the prettiest solution seen so far, with Toro Rosso's Key agreeing that the Maranello team has presented something "fundamentally different".
"But I do expect to see some changes right up until the season starts, and then within the season itself," he said.
"In all areas, we have decicated ourselves to having maximum flexibility."
Not surprisingly, the FIA's Charlie Whiting is at Jerez to keep an eye on how the teams have interpreted the sport's all-new rules.