James Allison is closing in on a move to join Ferrari in a senior technical position but a deal is not done yet.
After intense speculation about the future of Allison, whose exit as technical director at Lotus was confirmed on Wednesday, AUTOSPORT reports that he and Ferrari are working toward an agreement. If the talks reach fruition, then Allison will return to the team where he spent five years from 2000 during its most successful recent spell.
It is not clear exactly what position Allison is being lined up for, but it is likely that he will work alongside its current technical director Pat Fry as the team bids to bolster its structure.
With no contract yet finalized, and non-disclosure agreements in place over the discussions, Ferrari has played down talk about Allison rejoining the team. When asked whether Allison was joining the team, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said at an event in Maranello on Wednesday: "I don't know any truth in that. I must deny it."
However, when speaking about the wider Allison situation, di Montezemolo later said: "We will communicate when there is news to say, but not where there are rumors."
Allison, who is one of the most highly rated design engineers in F1, has been the target of several teams in recent months with his contract at Lotus coming to an end later this year. McLaren made an approach in the wake of Paddy Lowe's switch to Mercedes, but it was declined, while Williams is also understood to have sounded Allison out about a senior team role.
Of other teams that would be logical contenders, Mercedes already has a wealth of senior technical figures, while Red Bull still remains fully focused on the structure that revolves around Adrian Newey.
Lotus has replaced Allison with Nick Chester, effective immediately.