Lotus has downplayed the significance of the FIA's decision to prevent Renault from running revised engine maps for the start of 2013 season.
There had been speculation that the form of Renault's front-running teams – Lotus, Red Bull and Williams – could be hurt by the governing body forcing the French manufacturer to stick to the same engine maps as last year. At Barcelona's pre-season test last week, Renault had asked the FIA if it could run tweaked engine map settings for 2013 that would help it optimize exhaust blowing to exploit the current Coanda-effect designs at the rear of the cars.
That request was rejected by the FIA, which insisted that a clarification laid down after the 2012 German Grand Prix, stating that teams had to stick to engine maps introduced from the start of last season, still stood. The ramifications of that decision appeared a potential setback for the Renault-powered teams, but Lotus technical director James Allison insists that the 2013 tweaks were only exploratory and did not actually prove successful when tested on track.
Speaking at the FOTA Fan Forum in Barcelona on Wednesday night, Allison (LEFT) said: "The job of an F1 team is to stay inside the rules but you generally try and explore the boundaries of those rules as much as you can, because to do otherwise is to throw away performance needlessly. So there are a set of published and clear rules on what you are allowed to do with engine maps, and Renault explore those rules in the same way as the other engine manufacturers do.
"We were experimenting in testing – on the last day of the last test [at Barcelona] – with an engine map and we explained to the FIA what we were doing. But having run it on the track and found it didn't work very well anyway, we learned from the FIA that they were not so happy with what we proposed. So we are not doing it."
Renault F1 technical director Rob White said earlier this week that he considered the engine map question closed.
"That is what we are expecting," he said. "We expect to operate the exact same process as last year and I think we would expect to proceed as last year. I think we now expect that the reference will be the first four races of 2012."