Lotus's unique 'twin-tusk' Formula 1 nose design has proved to be an advantage on track, according to technical director Nick Chester.
The new Lotus E22 ran in public for the first time during last week's four-day F1 Bahrain test and on-track aerodynamic data suggests it is working well.
"From the aero numbers we are getting back from the car, it does seem to be performing," said Chester when asked by AUTOSPORT about the twin-tusk design.
"I'm not going to give you a number on how much better we think it is than a standard low nose, but we did see what we thought was a significant benefit, which is why we chased it."Chester admitted he is surprised no-one else opted to pursue the concept, especially as staff departures meant that other teams were aware of the idea.
Scuderia Toro Rosso technical director James Key has confirmed the Italian squad hadconsidered the idea
GARY ANDERSON'S VERDICT
Lotus has gone out on a limb with the twin-tusk concept to meet the new regulations covering the location of the front impact area.
This has been achieved by increasing the size of one of the wing pillar mounts. This area has to be a minimum of 9000 sq/mm with a centre of area no higher than 185mm and the lowest point no lower than 135mm from the reference plane.
This means that one of the tusks, the one on the right-hand-side from the driver's perspective, has to be at least 90mm wide to meet the regulations. while James Allison, who switched from Lotus to lead Ferrari's technical team, was also aware of the concept.
"Yes, in a way," said Chester when asked if he was surprised nobody had copied the idea.
"I know some teams had the luck to have visibility [of the idea] quite early and I thought there might have been one or two teams maybe that would have tried it and developed it.
"The one thing that is difficult with the nose is that it is quite hard to structurally develop and crash test it.
"Obviously, it is a different structure to a standard nose and it did take quite a lot of iterations to get it to a point where we were happy and it went through the crash test."
The second tusk is set back by something like 50mm as the regulations require a soft initial impact before reaching the point where the 9000 sq/mm area is measured.
This tusk can be narrower, but it looks very similar as I can only assume Lotus needed this extra area from the left hand pillar to pass the crash test.
Is it better than the other solutions we have seen? If you add up the widths of the components, the total aerodynamic blockage is more than the other cars, but the open central section will get the airflow to the centre of the car.
But on the downside, it doesn't allow as much aerodynamic detail as a conventional nose. Such detail work would be very good for inducing directional changes on the airflow that is going under the car.